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Distal nursing


  • Malone, Ruth E.


This paper considers the spatial dynamics of nurse-patient relationships within hospitals, primarily in the USA, under conditions of organizational restructuring, and situates them within social theoretical perspectives on space. As a human practice to which relationship is considered essential, nursing depends upon sustaining an often taken-for-granted proximity to patients. But hospital nursing, I argue in this paper, is increasingly constrained by spatial-structural practices that disrupt relationship and reduce or eliminate such proximity. Three kinds of proximity are threatened: physical, narrative, and moral. Examining these proximities through a place-space lens suggests that nursing is increasingly "distal" to patient care. There are potentially dangerous implications in this loss of proximity.

Suggested Citation

  • Malone, Ruth E., 2003. "Distal nursing," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(11), pages 2317-2326, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:11:p:2317-2326

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    Cited by:

    1. Brodie, David A. & Andrews, Gavin J. & Andrews, Justin P. & Thomas, B. Gail & Wong, Josephine & Rixon, Lorna, 2005. "Working in London hospitals: Perceptions of place in nursing students' employment considerations," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(9), pages 1867-1881, November.
    2. Andrews, Gavin J. & Shaw, David, 2010. ""So we started talking about a beach in Barbados": Visualization practices and needle phobia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(10), pages 1804-1810, November.
    3. Mesman, Jessica, 2009. "The geography of patient safety: A topical analysis of sterility," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(12), pages 1705-1712, December.
    4. Stonington, Scott D., 2012. "On ethical locations: The good death in Thailand, where ethics sit in places," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(5), pages 836-844.
    5. Zuberi, Daniyal M. & Ptashnick, Melita B., 2011. "The deleterious consequences of privatization and outsourcing for hospital support work: The experiences of contracted-out hospital cleaners and dietary aids in Vancouver, Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(6), pages 907-911, March.
    6. Kyle, Richard G. & Atherton, Iain M. & Kesby, Mike & Sothern, Matthew & Andrews, Gavin, 2016. "Transfusing our lifeblood: Reframing research impact through inter-disciplinary collaboration between health geography and nurse education," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 257-264.


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