Medical Empowerment

The term chosen to engage and involve patients will depend on what is appropriate for the specific culture of a region or community. Patient empowerment might be the preferred term from a patient advocacy point of view. However, the less emotionally charged and challenging term patient participation might be a term more acceptable to many HCWs, patients, and cultures. For the purpose of these guidelines, the word empowerment is used.

WHO defines empowerment as “a process through which people gain greater control over decisions and actions affecting their health” and should be seen as both an individual and a community process.

Four components have been reported as being fundamental to the process of patient empowerment:

1) understanding by the patient of his/her role;

2) acquisition by patients of sufficient knowledge to be able to engage with their healthcare provider;

3) patient skills; and

4) the presence of a facilitating environment. Based on these four components, empowerment can be defined as:

A process in which patients understand their role, are given the knowledge and skills by their health-care provider to perform a task in an environment that recognizes community and cultural differences and encourages patient participation.