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Survivor Guilt

Analyzing the Concept and Its Contexts

Hutson, Sadie P. PhD, RN, WHNP, BC; Hall, Joanne M. PhD; Pack, Frankie L. BA

doi: 10.1097/ANS.0000000000000058
Original Articles

Survivor guilt, a concept associated with the interpersonal process of “surviving” harm while others do not, increasingly appears in nursing, medicine, and psychology literature. Paradoxically, the phenomenon is rarely defined and often poorly described. Combining Rodger's evolutionary concept analysis with a comprehensive literature review, we explain the attributes, antecedents, consequences, related concepts, and surrogate terms of survivor guilt. A new definition emerged from the evolving use of the concept in new contexts. Survivor guilt is a valid form of suffering for which effective interventions need to be developed. This analysis extends the concept, laying the foundation for comprehensive treatment strategies.

College of Nursing (Drs Hutson and Hall), and Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences (Ms Pack), University of Tennessee–Knoxville.

Correspondence: Sadie P. Hutson, PhD, RN, WHNP, BC, College of Nursing, University of Tennessee–Knoxville, 1200 Volunteer Blvd, Room 161, Knoxville, TN 37996 (

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare as it pertains to this article.

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