The CASH assessment tool: A window into existential suffering

J Health Care Chaplain. 2022 Oct-Dec;28(4):482-496. doi: 10.1080/08854726.2021.1922980. Epub 2021 May 19.


Spiritual beliefs and practices have long served as a critical component of treating or managing serious illness. There is evidence to suggest that patients would like healthcare professionals to address their existential and spiritual needs. The CASH Assessment Tool focuses on four key areas of spiritual concern: Care, Assistance/Help, Stress, and Hopes/Fears. In this QI Project, a palliative care team within an urban, safety net, tertiary-care, and academic healthcare setting sought to elicit themes from the CASH assessment used by chaplains caring for patients with serious illnesses. Thirty patients were included in the pilot. Themes identified included knowing the patient as a person, concern about loved ones, concern about pain, and fear of death. We found that the CASH Assessment Tool was able to demonstrate the existential concerns of patients and serve as a framework for discussion about concerns and hopes of patients with serious illness.

Keywords: Chaplain; end of life; existential; palliative; suffering.

MeSH terms

  • Clergy
  • Existentialism
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care*
  • Phobic Disorders
  • Spirituality*

Supplementary concepts

  • Necrophobia