Making healthy choices easy choices: the role of empowerment

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Aug:59 Suppl 1:S10-5; discussion S16, S23. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602168.


An important goal of health promotion is to make it easier for people to make healthy choices. However, this may be difficult if people do not feel control over their environment and their personal circumstances. An important concept in relation to this is empowerment. Health professionals are expected to facilitate and enable people moving towards empowerment. In this paper, we address the question what is meant by individual empowerment. In an attempt to provide a theoretical framework, we discuss individual empowerment from a salutogenic perspective. This perspective introduces two fundamental concepts: the general resistance resources, and the sense of coherence. In addition, in order to further clarify and operationalise the concept, some factors influencing individual empowerment are identified, that is, locus of control, learned helplessness, self-efficacy and outcome expectations. These concepts find common ground in feelings of (lack of) control, but they differ in stability and changeability. We provide some suggestions how these factors can be influenced, and we discuss the meaning of the identified factors for empowering interactions between professionals and their clients. Health professionals can facilitate people to see a correspondence between their efforts and the outcomes thereof, improve and facilitate health literacy, in a relationship which can be characterised as partnership.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Choice Behavior
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Self Concept*
  • Self Efficacy*