Hospitals and other health care settings are the most common locations for U.S. adults to encounter chaplains, according to a Gallup report published in December 2022.

Only 25% of all U.S. adults said they have had an interaction with a chaplain at some point in their lives, with 40% saying this was in a hospital or health care setting.

By comparison, 11% said they have encountered a chaplain during military service, 10% in a palliative care or hospice setting, 4% at a college / university, 3% in a correctional facility, 3% in a K-12 school setting, 2% during disaster relief efforts, 1% through the Department of Veterans Affairs and 1% in a situation involving the police or fire department. The remaining 25% said they had encountered a chaplain in some other setting.

A majority (56%) of respondents were the recipients of a chaplain’s care or support, while 40% were visiting someone who was visited by a chaplain. In nearly half (47%) of the cases, the chaplain initiated the contact, with 51% saying the chaplain was Protestant Christian, 21% Roman Catholic and 4% another faith tradition – with 22% unsure of the chaplain’s religious affiliation.

Three topics were discussed with chaplains by a majority of respondents: death and dying (53%), mental / emotional health (53%) and dealing with change (52%). A majority of respondents listed four services the chaplain provided: listening (90%), praying (90%), comforting (82%) and offering spiritual / religious guidance (81%).

Chaplains generally leave a positive impression, with 95% of respondents saying they were compassionate, 91% a good listener, 90% trustworthy, 87% knowledgeable and 87% helpful. Only a few described chaplains with negative attributes: intrusive (11%), pushy (8%) and condescending (7%).

The full report is available here.

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