A dimension of self-care that has rarely been studied but that nonetheless poses serious problems for efforts to enhance health is self-neglect. Self-neglect here refers to clients who display a pattern of intentionally neglecting prescribed self-care activities despite available resources and knowledge. This article presents the results of a concept analysis of self-neglect as a first step toward further theory development, research, and eventual practical applications. The literature review addresses suicidology and noncompliance as areas significant to analysis of the concept Ethical, personal, and esthetic as well as empirical sources of knowledge are included as relevant to the conceptualization of self-neglect. Several case examples are constructed to distinguish self-neglect from other health-related behaviors that are potentially harmful. Measures designed to address the complexity of the concept are outlined as the empirical referents. It is concluded that the concept analysis of self-neglect can help to extricate nurse theoreticians and clinicians from conceptual ruts so that new answers to old but challenging problems related to self-care will be discovered.
© 1989 Aspen Publishers, Inc.