Patient empowerment is a multi-factorial concept and its relevance has led to a growing body of literature; despite this attention, there is still no agreement regarding the elements that define its expression. While several studies have already investigated the positive effect of empowerment interventions on the care process outcome, the aim of this study is to investigate which factors can foster an empowered management of the cancer condition from the patient’s perspective. To examine patients’ perception of empowerment enablers, we asked for participants’ input on the role of three factors frequently cited as positively affected by empowerment: care quality, perception of direct control and relationships within the care context, during the care process. Three focus groups were conducted with 34 cancer patients. The results highlight the perception of direct control on their treatment as the least valued element (2.87, SD 0.566) when compared with care quality (3.75, SD 0.649) and relational support in the care context (3.91, SD 0.274).
Unlike traditional approaches to empowerment, patient’s expression of empowerment does not mainly reside in the direct control of their condition as much as in an active role within the relationship with caretakers, such as the ability to choose the doctor, the care team or the health organisation in charge of their healthcare. Emerging aspects from this analysis of patient’s perspective are central in order to adequately consider empowerment in the care process and to provide more effective care strategies.