Chaplains and telechaplaincy: best practices, strengths, weaknesses—a national study
Telechaplaincy is the use of telecommunications and virtual technology to deliver religious/spiritual care. It has been used for decades, but chaplains’ understanding of telehealth lags behind other disciplines. The purpose of this study was to describe the use of telechaplaincy in the United States and chaplains’ perceptions of the practice. Researchers surveyed chaplains through chaplain-certifying-body email-listservs, then conducted in-depth interviews with 36 participants identified through maximum variation sampling. Quantitative analysis and qualitative, thematic analysis were conducted. Quantitative results show that in 2019, approximately half of surveyed chaplains performed telechaplaincy. Rural chaplains were more likely to have practiced. Chaplains who had not practiced were more willing to try if they believed it was effective at meeting religious/spiritual needs. Qualitative findings describe chaplains’ perceptions of strengths, weaknesses, and best practices.