Misuse (and abuse?) of the concept of empowerment: the case of online offer of predictive direct-to-consumer genetic tests

  • Loredana Covolo | University of Brescia, Italy.
  • Sara RubinelliUniversity of Lucerne, Switzerland.
  • Grazia OrizioUniversity of Brescia, Italy.
  • Umberto GelattiUniversity of Brescia, Italy.


Using the field of direct-to-consumer genetic tests as a case in point, this paper argues against the misuse of the term empowerment, and calls for a regulation of its usage. The misleading assumption under certain current usages of the concept of empowerment is that it is enhanced by the provision of health information. While the ‘information-empowerment’ correlation is misleading, if not wrong, the feeling of being empowered imposes an increasing burden of critical thinking on those people (patients and consumers) who have to evaluate that information and act for the benefit of their health.


Sara Rubinelli, University of Lucerne
Department of Health Sciences and Health Policy
Grazia Orizio, University of Brescia
Section of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health
Umberto Gelatti, University of Brescia
Section of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health