Concept analysis is a research method in which concepts are examined in a logical and systematic fashion to form clear and rigorous conceptual definitions. To describe the concept analyses published between 1994 and 2008 and identify the emerging tendencies in the Nursing discipline, a two-staged study has been developed. In the first stage a systematic review of the literature was conducted: research published in the journals indexed in the MedLine, CINAHL and Cochrane databases were judged eligible, if they reported the theme of 'concept analysis' and 'nursing' in the title or in their key words and were published in English language. In the second stage, the articles that emerged were subjected to a content analysis. Some 158 concept analyses emerged, on average 10/year (range 1-22, median 11, +/- 5.6): these regarded 129 different concepts. Ninety-one (57.6%) concepts were focused on the nursing profession, while 67 (42.4%) were focused on the patients. Although in a few cases the effort made by the researchers moved toward the definition of new concepts, in others it appeared oriented toward including in Nursing some typical concepts from other disciplines, thus tracing an expansion of the domain of the Nursing discipline. Monitoring over time the concepts analysed constitutes an important research area to comprehend, both at a national and international level, the progressive evolution of the Nursing discipline.
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