, Volume 52, Issue 5, pp 430–437 | Cite as

The Evolution of Spiritual Assessment Tools in Healthcare

  • Wendy Cadge
  • Julia Bandini
Symposium: The Religious and Secular in Medicine and Health


This article explores the history of spiritual assessment tools as a lens through which to consider the place of spirituality and religion in American healthcare. While precise definitions of spiritual assessment have evolved with the concept, the phrase generally refers to the process of evaluating someone’s spiritual needs and resources and addressing those needs in the context of clinical healthcare. We trace the diffusion of spiritual assessment tools from their origins in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling in the 1970s through nursing, medicine and social work in subsequent decades. While engaging with patients around religion and spirituality began as the professional jurisdiction of chaplains, spiritual assessment tools were designed – in part - to enable professionals in other fields to talk with patients about these topics. As such they are both a mechanism of diffusion – a set of questions healthcare professionals who advocate for greater attention to spirituality and religion teach their colleagues to ask – and a symbolic representation of how that diffusion is taking place and where there have been conflicts and bumps along the way.


Religion Spirituality Healthcare Spiritual assessment 

Further Reading

  1. Anandarajah, G., & Hight, E. 2001. Spirituality and Medical Practice: Using the HOPE Questions as a Practical Tool for Spiritual Assessment. American Family Physician, 63(1), 81–89.Google Scholar
  2. Balboni, M. J. 2013. A Theological Assessment of Spiritual Assessments. Christian Bioethics 19(3), 313–331. Google Scholar
  3. Bender, C. 2007. Religion and Spirituality: History, Discourse, Measurement. SSRC Forum.
  4. Bender, C. 2010. The New Metaphysicals: Spirituality and the American Religious Imagination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berg, Gary E. 1994. The Use of the Computer as a Tool for Assessment and Research in Pastoral Care. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy 6(1), 11–25. Google Scholar
  6. Berger, P. 2015. The Hospital: On the Interface between Secularity and Religion. Society, 52(5) Sept/Oct.Google Scholar
  7. Berggren-Thomas, P., & Griggs, M. J. 1995. Spirituality in aging: spiritual need or spiritual journey? Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 21(3), 5–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bishop, J. 2013. Of Idolatries and Ersatz Liturgies: The False Gods of Spiritual Assessment. Christian Bioethics, 19(3), 332–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cadge, W. 2012. Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark, D. 2007. From Margins to Centre: A Review of the History of Palliative Care in Cancer. Lancet Oncology, 8(5), 430–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Draper, P., & McSherry, W. 2002. A critical view of spirituality and spiritual assessment. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 39(1), 1–2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fitchett, G. 1993a. Assessing Spiritual Needs: A Guideline for Caregivers. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publications. (Reprint edition Lima, Ohion: Academic Renewal Press, 2002).Google Scholar
  13. Fitchett, G. 1993b. Spiritual Assessment in Pastoral Care: A Guide to Selected Resources. Decatur, GA: Journal of Pastoral Care Publications.Google Scholar
  14. Fitchett, G. 2012. Next Steps for Spiritual Assessment in Healthcare. In M. Cobb, C. M. Puchlaski, & B. Rumbold (Eds.), Oxford Textbook of Spirituality in Healthcare (pp. 299–305). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hay, M. W. 1989. Principles in building spiritual assessment tools. The American Journal of Hospice Care, 6(5), 25–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hodge, D. R. 2001. Spiritual assessment: a review of major qualitative methods and a new framework for assessing spirituality. Social Work, 46(3), 203–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hodge, D. R. 2013. Implicit spiritual assessment: an alternative approach for assessing client spirituality. Social Work, 58(3), 223–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Holland, E. 1985. The Art of Hospice Spiritual Care. In K. Gardner (Ed.), Quality Care for the Terminally Ill: An Examination of the Issues, Special issue of Quality Review Bulletin (pp. 136–140). Chicago: Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals.Google Scholar
  19. Ironson, G., Solomon, G. F., Balbin, E. G., et al. 2002. The Ironson-Woods Spirituality/Religiousness Index is associated with long survival, health behaviors, less distress and low cortisol in people with HIV/AIDS. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 24, 34e48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kass, J. D., Friedman, R., Leserman, J., Zuttermeister, P. C., & Benson, H. 1991. Health Outcomes and a New Index of Spiritual Experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 30(2), 203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Koenig, H. G. 2002. An 83 Year Old Woman with Chronic Illness and Strong Religious Beliefs. Journal of the American Medical Association, 288(4), 487–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kuhn, C. C. 1988. A Spiritual Inventory of the Medically Ill Patient. Psychiatric Medicine, 6(2), 87–100.Google Scholar
  23. LaRocca-Pitts, M. 2008. FACT: Taking a Spiritual History in a Clinical Setting. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, 15, 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lewis, L. M. 2008. Spiritual Assessment in African-Americans: A Review of Measures of Spirituality Used in Health Research. Journal of Religion and Health, 47, 458–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lo, B., Quill, T., & Tulsky, J. 1999. Discussing palliative care with patients. Annals of Internal Medicine, 130(9), 744–749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Maugans, T. A. 1996. The SPIRITual History. Archives of Family Medicine, 5(1), 11–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Monod, S., Brennan, M., Rochat, E., Martin, E., Rochat, S., & Bula, C. J. 2011. Instruments measuring spirituality in clinical research: a systematic review. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 26(11), 1345–1357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Moore, R. J. 2003. Spiritual assessment. Social Work, 48(4), 558–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Muncy, J. F. 1996. Muncy comprehensive spiritual assessment. The American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care, 13(5), 44–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nash, R. 1990. Life’s Major Spiritual Issues. The Care Giver Journal, 7(1), 3–42.Google Scholar
  31. Newshan, G. 1998. Transcending the physical: spiritual aspects of pain in patients with HIV and/or cancer. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 28(6), 1236–1241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. O’Connor, T. S. J., O’Neill, K., Penner, C., Van Staalduinen, G., Meakes, E., & Davis, K. 2005. Not Well Known, Used Little and Needed: Canadian Chaplains’ Experiences of Published SPiritual Assessment Tools. The Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling, 59(1–2), 97–107.Google Scholar
  33. Olsen, A. 2009. Olsen’s BASIC-6 Spiritual Care Screens. PlainViews 6(22).Google Scholar
  34. Pierpont, J. H. 2003. Spiritual assessment. Social Work, 48(4), 563–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Puchalski, C., & Romer, A. L. 2000. Taking a Spiritual History Allows Clinicians to Understand Patients More Fully. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 3(1), 129–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Robinson, M. R., Thiel, M. M., & Meyer, E. C. 2007. On being a spiritual care generalist. American Journal of Bioethics, 7(7), 24–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rosmarin, D. H., Pirutinsky, S., & Pargament, K. I. 2011. A brief measure of core religious beliefs for use in psychiatric settings. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 41(3), 253–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sharma, R. K., Astrow, A. B., Texeira, K., & Sulmasy, D. P. 2012. The Spiritual Needs Assessment for Patients (SNAP): development and validation of a comprehensive instrument to assess unmet spiritual needs. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 44(1), 44–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Skalla, K. A., & McCoy, J. P. 2006. Spiritual Assessment of Patients with Cancer: The Moral Authority, Vocational, Aesthetic, Social, and Transcendent Model. Oncology Nursing Forum, 33(4), 745–751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Staten, P. 2003. Spiritual assessment required in all settings. Hospital Peer Review, 28(4), 55–56.Google Scholar
  41. Stoddard, G., & Burns-Haney, J. 1990. Developing an Integrated Approach to Spiritual Assessment: One Department’s Experience. The Care Giver Journal, 7(1), 63–86.Google Scholar
  42. Stoll, R. I. 1979. Guidelines for Spiritual Assessment. American Journal of Nursing, 79(9), 1574–1577.Google Scholar
  43. Timmons, F., & Kelly, J. 2008. Spiritual Assessment in Intensive and Cardiac Care Nursing. Nursing in Critical Care, 13(3), 124–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. VandeCreek, L. 1999. Professional chaplaincy: an absent profession? Journal of Pastoral Care, 53(4), 417–432.Google Scholar
  45. VandeCreek, L., Ayres, S., & Bassham, M. 1995. Using INSPIRIT to Conduct Spiritual Assessments. Journal of Pastoral Care, 49(1), 83–89.Google Scholar
  46. Yeadon, B. E. 1986. Spiritual assessment for a community-based hospice. Caring, 5(10), 72–75.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyBrandeis UniversityWalthamUSA

Personalised recommendations