HLT428 The Existential Experience of Suffering Across the Life Courses (8)

In this subject students will examine the existential experiences of people living with an advanced chronic or terminal illness, and their families and caregivers. Specifically, students will recognise the language of existentialism and take account of the individuals and familys personal meanings of health, illness and coping with chronic illness. Concepts such as hope, loss and powerlessness as they are experienced by the person and family are explored. Specific issues relating to children and young adults will aslo be explored. Students will critically explore the role health professionals in a transdisciplinary team play in shaping the patient experience.

Subject Outlines
Current CSU students can view Subject Outlines for recent sessions. Please note that Subject Outlines and assessment tasks are updated each session.


Session 2 (60)
Wagga Wagga Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: HLT428. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Enrolment Restrictions

Previous Bachelor degree must be an allied health degree, a psychology related degree, social work or welfare related degree or nursing degree.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to describe and discuss the critical elements of existentialism as it applies to people living with an advanced chronic or terminal illness, their families and caregivers including children and young adults
  • be able to anticipate ethical issues or competing existential needs of the patient facing the end of their life, their families and caregivers;
  • be able to interpret the impact issues such as hope, loss and powerlessness have on clinical presentations and symptom load;
  • be able to integrate the existential concerns and needs of the patient into a biopsychosocial therapeutic intervention care plan;
  • be able to assess the effectiveness of providing an integrated, holistic, biopsychosocial therapeutic plan on the psychological outcomes of patients, their families and caregivers including children and young adults


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • understanding grief and loss
  • understanding trauma as it applies to patients living with advanced chronic and terminal illness
  • integrating grief, loss and trauma into the disease trajectory
  • developing biopsychosocial therapeutic intervention care plans
  • ethics of suicide and euthanasia
  • psychological shift associated with diagnosis of an advanced chronic and terminal illness
  • sense of loss associated with a terminal diagnosis
  • quality of life - delaying death
  • bereavement support for the unit of care
  • suffering as the meaning given to the experience


Current Students

For any enquiries about subject selection or course structure please contact Student Central or ask@csu.edu.au or phone on 1800 275 278.

Prospective Students

For further information about Charles Sturt University, or this course offering, please contact info.csu on 1800 275 278 (free call within Australia) or enquire online.

The information contained in the 2018 CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: August 2018. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.