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Health care chaplains have embraced the importance of evidence-based practice but lack training to realize it. This prevents them from using research to guide the spiritual care they provide. It also prevents them, as the front-line workers around religion and spirituality in health care, from engaging in research-informed conversations with colleagues, patients and families. In health care environments where understandings of the relationship between religion, spirituality and health are often controversial, chaplains are not strongly empirically informed and their roles are at risk as jobs are cut back or eliminated.

We propose a project to capitalize on strategic opportunities for training research literate chaplains. Once trained, these chaplains will serve as ambassadors who share research literatures about religion and health. In this proposal, we outline an administrative structure that will enable a subsequent three-part research-training program for professional chaplains (Proposal 57029, “Training Research-Literate Chaplains as Ambassadors for Spirituality and Health: Phase II")

By the end of the grant period described here we will have established the infrastructure for Proposal 57029, selected the first cohort of eight Templeton Chaplaincy Research Fellows and the first cohort of 35 Chaplaincy Residency Programs for research education curriculum awards.

Initiated with the support of the professional chaplaincy associations, these two grants will train at least 800 research literate chaplains who will: 1) serve as effective ambassadors about empirical relationships between religion, spirituality and health, 2) expand their own empirically-based contributions to the spiritual well-being of patients and families, and 3) effectively communicate the empirical basis for those contributions. Such changes will strengthen understandings of the relationships between religion, spirituality and health nationwide.