Lab findings on chaplain demand published

A key component of the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab’s project on covenantal pluralism, supported by the Templeton Religion Trust, has been determining demand for spiritual care in the United States.

In March 2022 Gallup conducted a national survey among adults about their utilization of spiritual care, the demographics of the chaplains they encountered, and how those receiving spiritual care perceive those encounters. The Lab has now published the findings of that survey, available here (PDF) or by clicking the image at right. This report will be discussed on a webinar with a panel of spiritual care researchers and administrators on September 21; the recording will be made available soon. The Lab’s formal press release can be found below.

New Gallup poll shows many Americans seek the care of chaplains, but few can define what a chaplain is.

Gallup’s recent nationwide survey, conducted on behalf of Dr. Wendy Cadge at Brandeis University’s Chaplaincy Innovation Lab, shows many Americans engage with chaplains. 25% reported ever having contact with a chaplain and 14% engaged with one in the past five years. Yet the survey’s results showed a surprising amount of confusion around who chaplains are and what they do.

“While the demand for chaplain care is significant, it’s fascinating that what this care entails remains ambiguous in the minds of most,” says Cadge. “Chaplains offer support and care in some of our most vulnerable moments; this is a unique role that is only growing in importance as fewer people seek this kind of care in traditional religious environments. People need to know that the support of chaplains is available to meet these needs, regardless of their personal spiritual or religious backgrounds.”

Cadge and her team at Brandeis University are conducting this research as part of a larger project funded by Templeton Religion Trust to understand the demand for chaplains in America and how to best prepare those training to be spiritual care providers.

“By focusing on growing demand for chaplaincy and spiritual care, as well as the challenges chaplains currently face,my team and I hope this project will increase public awareness of support available from chaplains and available support lead to improvements in chaplaincy training across the board.”

Founded in 2018, the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab supports chaplains in all sectors as they recognize and respond to changes in American religious and spiritual life. The Lab brings chaplaincy leaders, theological educators, clinical educators, and social scientists into a research-based conversation about the state of chaplaincy and spiritual care. Driving its work are questions about how spiritual caregivers can do their best work. The Lab aims to improve how chaplains are trained, how they work with diverse individuals (including those with no religious or spiritual background), and how spiritual care develops as a professional field


Brandeis University was founded in 1948 by the American Jewish community at a time when Jews and other marginalized groups faced discrimination in higher education. Today, Brandeis is a leading research university for anyone, regardless of background, who wants to use their knowledge, skills and experience to improve the world. Nearly 6,000 Brandeis students and 550 faculty members collaborate across disciplines, interests and perspectives on scholarship that has a positive impact throughout society. Learn more at


Templeton Religion Trust (TRT) is a global charitable trust chartered in 1984 by Sir John Templeton with headquarters in Nassau, The Bahamas, where Sir John lived until his death in 2008. TRT, active since 2012, supports projects and the dissemination of results from projects seeking to enrich the conversation about religion.