The meaning of dignity for older adults: A meta-synthesis

Anne Clancy*, Nina Simonsen-Rehn, Johanne Lind, Anne Liveng, Aud Johannessen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Dignified care is a central issue in the nursing care of older adults. Nurses are expected to treat older adults with dignity, and older adults wish to be treated in a dignified manner. Researchers have recommended investigating the concept of dignity based on specific contexts and population groups. This meta-synthesis study aims to explore the understandings of dignity from the perspective of older adults in the Nordic countries. Synthesising findings from qualitative studies on older adults’ experiences of dignity has provided important insight into what can be essential for dignified care in a Nordic context. The importance of visibility and recognition for the experience of dignity is an overarching theme in all the studies. The participants’ descriptions mostly implicated an existence dominated by a lack of recognition. The older adults do not feel valued as people or for their contribution to society and strive to tone down their illnesses in an attempt to become more visible and acknowledged as people. Toning down their illnesses and masking their needs can protect their independence. At the same time, becoming less visible can leave them without a voice. The metaphorical phrase protected and exposed by a cloak of invisibility is used to express the authors’ overall interpretation of the findings. Lack of recognition and being socially invisible is a genuine threat to older adults’ dignity.
Translated title of the contributionBetydningen af værdighed for ældre mennesker i de nordiske lande: en metasyntese
Original languageEnglish
JournalNursing Ethics
Number of pages17
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020
EventNordic Health Promotion Research Network - WHO, København, Denmark
Duration: 30 Mar 201731 Mar 2017


OtherNordic Health Promotion Research Network
Internet address


  • Dignified care
  • Older adults
  • invisibility
  • Recognition
  • Meta-synthesis

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