Patient empowerment is defined as helping people to discover and use their own innate ability to gain mastery over their diabetes (Funnell MM, Anderson RM. Diabetes Educ. 1991;17:37–41). While you cannot empower a patient, nurses can use strategies that will assist patients in this process. These include providing education for informed decision-making, assisting patients to weigh costs and benefits of various treatment options, setting self-selected behavioral goals, and providing information about the importance of their role in self-management (Funnell et al. Diabetes Educ. 2003;29:454–464). The skills needed by nurses include asking questions in order to understand the patients' fears, concerns, and priorities, listening to responses, and educating and supporting patients for on-going self-management.
From the Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Corresponding author: Martha M. Funnell, MS, RN, CDE, Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center, University of Michigan Medical School, 1331 E Ann St, Rm 5111, Box 0830, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 (e-mail: email@example.com).