The recent surge of interest in links between spirituality and health has generated many assessment approaches that seek to identify spiritual need and suggest strategic responses for health care practitioners. The interpretations of spirituality made within health frameworks do not do justice to the way spirituality is understood in society in general. Spiritual assessment should not impose a view or definition of spirituality, but should seek to elicit the thoughts, memories and experiences that give coherence to a person's life. Spiritual assessment tools should not be used without adequate exploration of the assumptions made. Assessment processes need to be adequately conceptualised and practically relevant.