Patient and Citizen Participation in Health: The Need for Improved Ethical Support

Laura Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Patient and citizen participation is now regarded as central to the promotion of sustainable health and health care. Involvement efforts create and encounter many diverse ethical challenges that have the potential to enhance or undermine their success. This article examines different expressions of patient and citizen participation and the support health ethics offers. It is contended that despite its prominence and the link between patient empowerment and autonomy, traditional bioethics is insufficient to guide participation efforts. In addition, the turn to a "social paradigm" of ethics in examinations of biotechnologies and public health does not provide an account of values that is commensurable with the pervasive autonomy paradigm. This exacerbates rather than eases tensions for patients and citizens endeavoring to engage with health. Citizen and patient participation must have a significant influence on the way we do health ethics if its potential is to be fulfilled.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-16
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Bioethics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy


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