Isolation: A Concept Analysis


  • Funding: This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
  • Conflict of Interest Statement: No conflicts of interest have been declared by the authors.


Heather M. Gilmartin, MSN, RN, FNP, College of Nursing, University of Colorado, Aurora, CO




Concept analysis of isolation.


This article uses Walker and Avant's methodological approach in distinguishing the concept of isolation between the normal, ordinary language usage and the scientific usage of the concept.


The importance of social contact has long been recognized as a fundamental need for humans. The concept of isolation is used throughout the lay and scientific literature and has a primarily negative connotation for humans. The experience is sometimes severe enough to result in serious reductions in adaptation and performance.

Data Sources

The Medline, CINAHL, and Google Scholar databases were searched using the key terms of concept analysis, human, and isolation with no restriction on the year of publication. English language reports were used exclusively.


Three attributes were identified: sensory deprivation, social isolation, and confinement. Antecedents included individual perception and situational dimensions. Consequences included anxiety, depression, mood disturbances, anger, loneliness, and adverse health events. Through this concept analysis, isolation has been theoretically defined as a state in which an individual experiences a reduction in the level of normal sensory and social input with possible involuntary limitations on physical space or movement. Systematic studies of isolation using this concept can ultimately enhance nurses' knowledge base and contribute to the quality of life for isolated persons.