Disclosure: a concept analysis

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This article is a report of a concept analysis of disclosure.


Disclosure of health concerns is often delayed or incomplete, resulting in a lack of appropriate care or inability to avoid complications. Disclosure is a poorly understood phenomenon in nursing, however, an understanding of the concept is critical to providing effective nursing care.

Data Sources.

Literature from the humanities, social sciences, business, law, nursing and allied health fields in five search engines was reviewed for insight into a patient's decision to disclose health information to a healthcare provider.

Review Methods.

Wilson's method of concept analysis guided this study into the meaning of disclosure from the point of view of a patient seeking healthcare. Inclusive years of search ranged from 1991 to 2010.


Disclosure is defined as the act of seeking care by revealing personally significant information that exposes the bearer to the risk of rejection or negative judgment. Attributes of disclosure are identified as: holding significant health-related information, assistance needed to cope, tolerance for unpredictable result, divulgence and expectation of serious response. Consequences of disclosure include resolution, reassurance or assistance gained, but may also include suffering rejection or negative repercussions.


Implications for nursing practice are explored and include focused questioning, providing for safety concerns, acknowledging significance and sensitivity of disclosed information and acting on the disclosure.

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