Date of Award

8-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Communication and Information

Major Professor

Michelle Violanti

Committee Members

Kenneth J. Levine, Laura E. Miller, Kathleen C. Brown

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the communication behaviors of hospital chaplains in an effort to understand their workplace role. In the literature, most chaplain recognition related to spiritual interactions and improved health outcomes for patients, which left much information about their workplace lives unknown. This study used interviews with hospital chaplains to explore their communication behaviors. Using communication allowed chaplains to manage roles and uncertainty, build relationships, and handle the paradoxical interactions they encounter at work. The findings revealed that hospital chaplains, who operate as liaisons in their organizations, practiced convergence to accommodate others. They also managed the stress of dealing with a job where they are always in demand, but also undervalued by others with whom they work. The implications extend communication accommodation theory’s utility in the workplace. Future research should look at exploring the role of the chaplain from their coworkers’ perspectives.

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