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Patient Activation

  • By: Christy J.W. Ledford
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Patient activation describes an individual's self-assessment of knowledge, skills, and confidence to enact self-management behaviors in order to maintain health. Individuals with high patient activation believe their role as a patient is important, have the confidence and knowledge necessary to take action, and enact behaviors to maintain and improve their health. These patients take action, ask questions of the provider, and participate in decisions about treatment. Thomas Bodenheimer, a family medicine physician and researcher, recommends “preactivating” patients prior to clinical encounters. Numerous interventions to include educational programs, care coaching, and motivational interviewing have been attempted to improve this perceived activation with varied success. Theoretically, literature shows patient activation can be increased. Conceptualizing activation as a dynamic variable allows health communication interventionists to target this motivating ...

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