Health Care Analysis

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 77–96 | Cite as

Empowerment: A Conceptual Discussion

  • Per-Anders TenglandEmail author
Original Article


The concept of ‘empowerment’ is used frequently in a number of professional areas, from psychotherapy to social work. But even if the same term is used, it is not always clear if the concept denotes the same goals or the same practice in these various fields. The purpose of this paper is to clarify the discussion and to find a plausible and useful definition of the concept that is suitable for work in various professions. Several suggestions are discussed in the paper, for example control over life or health, autonomy, ability, self-efficacy, self-esteem, and freedom, and it is concluded that there are two plausible complementary uses, one as a goal and one as a process or approach. Empowerment as a goal is to have control over the determinants of one’s quality of life, and empowerment as a process is to create a professional relation where the client or community takes control over the change process, determining both the goals of this process and the means to use.


Ability Autonomy Control Definition Empowerment Freedom Process Self-esteem Self-efficacy Health Knowledge Quality of life 



I would like to thank Lennart Nordenfelt and Bengt Brülde for valuable comments on earlier versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health and SocietyMalmö UniversityMalmoSweden

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