Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability

REF 2021

1st in the UK

Divinity at the University of Aberdeen was ranked 1st in the UK for overall quality of research

Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability

The Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability is based in the School of Divinity, History, Philosophy & Art History, King’s College, University of Aberdeen. The Centre has access to all of the resources of the university including full computing facilities, extensive research software, as well as access to world class expertise within the areas of theology, medicine, nursing, disability studies and qualitative and quantitative research. It is ideally placed to meet the needs of collaborative research projects, hosting conferences and for the supervision of students at postgraduate and post-doctoral levels.

Purpose and Aims

The Centre focuses on:

  • Theology and mental health
  • The theology of dementia
  • The theology of disability
  • The relationship between spirituality, health, and healing, and the significance of the spiritual dimension for contemporary health care practices

The centre aims to enable academics, researches, practitioners, people with disabilities, people with mental health challenges, and people with dementia to work together to develop innovative and creative research projects, new ways of practising, and fresh teaching initiatives.

The Centre:

  • provides a focal point for developing innovative, action oriented research programs exploring the centre’s foci
  • produces research of international standing
  • develops new and innovative educational initiatives aimed at church leaders, pastoral carers, and those working within health and social care services
  • brings together multidisciplinary teams of researchers to develop networks that will produce exciting and innovative collaborative projects
  • encourages formal creative affiliations with other centres, institutions, and organisations involved in similar work throughout the world


The Reverend Professor John Swinton FBA, FRSE, FISSR, RMN, RNMD
Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care

School of Divinity with Religious Studies and Philosophy
King's College
University of Aberdeen
AB24 3UB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 1224 27 3224
Email:  j.swinton@abdn.ac.uk


The Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability exists to help individuals and organisations address pressing spiritual and theological issues and needs within religious communities, health and social care professions, and the field of disability theology. It seeks to achieve this task through:

  1. Careful reflection on key theological issues within the field;
  2. The development of a rigorous, evidence-based empirical research program, with a particular focus on research that informs practice; and,
  3. Consultation and professional guidance.

Areas of activity include: the theology of disability, dementia, mental health, intellectual disabilities, health and healing, oncology, end of life care, genetics and disability, parish nursing, ethics, staff support, chaplaincy, and suicide.


The Centre is self-funding and receives no external public money. It generates income purely through research grants and donations from supportive parties. The Centre thus far has managed research projects funded by, amongst others: