Four components have been reported as being fundamental to the process of patient empowerment: 1) understanding by the patient of his/her role; 2) acquisition by patients of sufficient knowledge to be able to engage with their healthcare provider; 3) patient skills; and 4) the presence of a facilitating environment. Based on these four components, Empowerment can be defined 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.”
In the health sector, the norm has been that the doctor’s advice should be received and followed, but this does not always work. There has been extensive professional development to achieve behavioral changes through patient-centeredness and reinforcement of the doctor’s message. To professionally empower people you need to enable them to overcome their sense of powerlessness and lack of influence, and to recognize and use their resources. Empowerment enables patients to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. It could help them in the process of becoming stronger and more confident in controlling one’s life. Virtually all people are patients at some point in their lives. Improving a person’s ability to understand and manage his or her own health and disease, negotiating with different cadres of health professionals, and navigating the complexity of health systems are crucial to achieving better health outcomes.