Patient empowerment in the United States: a critical commentary

Health Expect. 1999 May;2(2):82-92. doi: 10.1046/j.1369-6513.1999.00048.x.


Whilst there is no consensus amongst analysts regarding how best to define 'patient empowerment', at the very least, this concept entails a re-distribution of power between patients and physicians. Empowered patients attempt to take charge of their own health and their interactions with health care professionals. Empowerment can occur at different levels (micro, meso, and macro) and patients have different ideas about what it means to 'take charge' and 'be empowered'. Some patients simply want to be given information about their conditions whilst others want to have full control over all medical decision-making. Some empirical evidence suggests that active patient participation in health care is associated with better patient outcomes. This field is ripe for future studies which both help to develop theoretical models of patient empowerment and articulate the conditions under which patient empowerment occurs.