What is Empowerment?

Empowerment is a process of knowledge and skill acquisition and is an integral to the medical model termed “patient-centered care”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines empowerment 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.(p. 190 of link)

There exists four components of empowerment that are fundemental to the process:

  1. The patient or client understands their role in health care and are actively involved in it.
  2. The patient or client has sufficient knowledge to actively engage in their health with their health care provider.
  3. The patient or client learns or has the skills required to understand their health and work towards achieving a particular effect or goal.
  4. The patient or client is able to freely communicate their care in an environment that is free of barriers so positive change processes can occur.

When the patient or client fulfill these four components of empowerment, a dialogue is able to occur in which the patient or client can take on a well-informed and active role in their health decisions.