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Robert Brown, Hugh P McKenna
International Journal of Palliative Nursing, Vol. 5, Iss. 2, 17 Feb 1999, pp 90 - 97

This article presents a conceptual analysis of loneliness and highlights the importance of loneliness for dying patients. It is suggested that patient and professional avoidance of, and reluctance to address, this subject may result in part because of a lack of understanding of the concept. In analysing the concept and providing a theoretical definition, this article incorporates the methods adopted by Walker and Avant (1983) and Rodgers (1989a). The defining attributes, related concepts, antecedents and consequences of loneliness are examined and a model case is presented. The analysis concludes that loneliness is: a
subjective experience which involves the social meaning of death; based on a person’s relationship with those around him/her; and is an individualized process which is characterized by loss. It is suggested that future research should concentrate on exploring the ‘living’ reality of dying people which in conjunction with nursing knowledge could improve the quality of life for dying patients.

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