Empowerment education: Freire's ideas adapted to health education. Academic Article uri icon


  • Empowerment Education is proposed as an effective health education and prevention model that promotes health in all personal and social arenas. The model suggests that participation of people in group action and dialogue efforts directed at community targets enhances control and beliefs in ability to change people's own lives. The article is divided into three parts: a literature review demonstrating that powerlessness is linked to disease, and conversely, empowerment linked to health: an exposition of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire's empowering education theory with a comparison to traditional health education; and a case study of an empowering education substance abuse prevention project. The Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) Program is a University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Emergency Center, and community and school-based prevention project for adolescents. The case study will present ASAP's theoretical underpinnings and social practice, evaluation results, preliminary understandings of the stages for an empowering process, and future questions for practitioners interested in this approach. Empowerment education with its emphasis on organizing is recommended to be integrated into other prevention strategies of health promotion, disease prevention, and health policy.

publication date

  • January 1, 1988