How to Empower Patients

How to Empower PatientsI’m going to start doing shorter blog posts along with my usual longer analyses. These quick posts will be part of my Social Science Snack series, which will show how research can improve business, the community sector and social media.  My aim is to write about social science research in a way that makes the academic language and ideas more widely accessible. I also focus on providing solutions to specific organisational problems.

Today’s Social Science Snack is about how community health services might empower patients.

Photo: Tax Haven, via Flickr CC 2.0
Photo: Tax Haven, via Flickr CC 2.0

An interesting study by Sara Glasgow argues that having “expert patients” involved in public health campaigns would improve the wellbeing of other patients. The study focuses on chronic diseases, which includes heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory illness. These illnesses make up 60% of deaths around the world each year.

The idea is that patients would feel empowered to better manage their own health by seeing positive examples from fellow patients. Professor of Political Science, Sara Glasgow, writes:

By developing programs in such a way as to emphasise a fuller, more healthy life, greater self-esteem, enhanced abilities, and the like—Expert Patients does not need to engage in project of coercion to good health. Rather, it is structured in such a way as to facilitate in the potential participant the desire to govern his or her health.

 

'Patients may be experts in their own chronic condition, and they have a role to play in saving themselves." - Quote: Sara M. Glasgow, Sage Open July 2012. Image: Social Science Insights
‘Patients may be experts in their own chronic condition, and they have a role to play in saving themselves.” – Quote: Sara M. Glasgow, Sage Open July 2012. Image: Social Science Insights

Over to you!

Do you provide health services – how could you better involve patients in your service delivery? Are you wondering how else you can empower the clients you work with?