Term: Patient Empowerment

Description: Patient empowerment is a concept based on the idea that to be truly healthy, people must bring about changes – not only in their personal behavior, but also in their social situations and in the environmental influences on their lives.

Empowered patients take responsibility for health issues instead of relying on others for all information. One should set reachable goals and collaborate with others for support along with gathering information from library and internet resources.

The concept of patient empowerment stemmed from the Natural Health Movement. Advocates of this movement explain there are three key points to empowerment, which are as follows:

1. Patients cannot be forced to follow a lifestyle dictated by others.
2. Preventive medicine requires patient empowerment for it to be effective.
3. Patients as consumers have the right to make their own choices and the ability to act on them.

As this concept becomes more widely accepted, not-for-profit organizations and websites are providing information and free services to better help the individual with his or her own empowerment. Options that are available for people who want to 'become empowered' include the following:

  • finding a specialist, to ensure having a physician who is especially competent with a specific illness or area.
  • requesting a second opinion, to ensure that a diagnosis and/or prescription is accurate.
  • searching drug information, to ensure that a particular pharmaceutical product is right for an individual's particular needs or budget.
  • finding medical legal advice, to ensure that, should errors occur, that the individual will be able to acquire legal assistance.
  • requesting a copy of one's own medical records, to ensure that an individual is aware of his or her own medical information.

Applications: Patient empowerment has and will have an impact on the medical industry, as more individuals will accept the fact that they are the ones who are responsible for their own health. While this has always been true, the success of this empowerment will likewise rely on the individual and motivational techniques from the doctor.

Web Resources:
Every Patient's Advocate — http://www.everypatientsadvocate.com/

The Natural Health Perspective — http://naturalhealthperspective.com/attitude/empowerment.html

Patients are Powerful — http://www.patientsarepowerful.org/index.cfm

PPECA (Partnering for Patient Empowerment through Community Awareness) — http://www.galter.northwestern.edu/ppeca/

Patient Empowerment: http://www.patients.about.com/

Patient Empowerment Improves Outcomes: http://docnews.diabetesjournals.org/content/4/12/1.2.full

Related Terminology:
Natural Health (or the Natural Health Movement)
Patient Advocacy
U.S. Patient's Bill of Rights

Citations/References:
The Natural Health Perspective — http://naturalhealthperspective.com/attitude/empowerment.html

Patients are Powerful — http://www.patientsarepowerful.org/index.cfm