Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

Effect of Chaplaincy Visits in an Elder Care Setting: A Pilot Analysis of Existing Data

Religion is a consistent, positive predictor of health in older adults. Studies focused on religion and spirituality as a coping mechanism find significant positive effects on the lives of older adults. This study investigated how an older person’s living situation influences his or her access to spiritual and religious resources and, consequently, his or her health. Utilizing existing data, this pilot project examined the relationship between visits from a chaplain and the mood, pain level, functional ability, and/or discharge status of elders residing in the rehabilitation unit of one long-term care facility. Samples of patients who did and did not have chaplaincy visits were matched based on their level of frailty. Analytic comparisons revealed no significantly different outcomes in terms of mood, pain level, functional ability, or discharge status for patients visited by a chaplain. The outcomes suggest future hypotheses and offer a model for outcomes-based chaplaincy research.