Toward a theory of patient and consumer activation

Patient Educ Couns. 2010 Mar;78(3):377-81. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2009.12.015. Epub 2010 Feb 25.


Objective: The purpose of this study is to begin the process of developing a theory of activation, to inform educational efforts and the design of interventions. Because the experience of positive emotions in daily life, tends to widen the individual's array of behavioral responses and increase their openness to new information, we examine how emotions relate to activation levels.

Methods: A web survey was carried out in 2008 with a National sample of respondents between the ages of 25-75. The study achieved a 63% response rate with a final sample size of 843.

Results: The findings indicate that activation is linked with the experience of positive and negative emotion in daily life. Those low in activation are weighted down by negative affect and negative self-perception.

Conclusions: Bringing about change in activation, likely means breaking this cycle of negative self-perception and emotions.

Practice implications: Experiencing success can start a positive upward cycle, just like failure produces the opposite. By encouraging small steps toward improving health, ones that are realistic, given the individuals level of activation, it is possible to start that positive cycle. Effective educational efforts should focus on improving self-efficacy and the individual's self-concept as a self-manager.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires