gms | German Medical Science

27th German Cancer Congress Berlin 2006

German Cancer Society (Frankfurt/M.)

22. - 26.03.2006, Berlin

Was ist Patientenkompetenz: Einführung

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Gerd Nagel - Stiftung Patientenkompetenz Zürich, Männedorf, Schweiz

27. Deutscher Krebskongress. Berlin, 22.-26.03.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. DocIS077

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: March 20, 2006

© 2006 Nagel.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



In Germany the expression Patientenkompetenz ( the competent patient ) appeared first in 1998. Within few years the concept of the competent patient became very popular amongst cancer patients. The expression was also picked up by medicine, psychooncology, social medicine and public health. First publications dealing with competent patients appeared in 2001. A working definition of patient competence was published in 2003. A survey of what patient competence means to patients was completed and published by A. Bopp et. al. in 2005.

In England the concept of patient competence is a familiar one, though the expression the ‘expert patient’ is preferred. An official appraisal of the expert patient by the Ministry of Public Health was published in 2001.

The meaning of patient competence is distinctly different from previous expressions used to describe the role of patients in public health systems, such as: the informed patient, the responsible ( mündiger ) patient, the autonomous or educated patient. Between 1970 and 1990, the key issue for patients was their relationsship to the social environment such as the law or to certain people such as physicians.

By contrast, patient competence refers to the role a given patient plays in relation to him/herself, to his/her disease and his/her duties as a responsible patient.

In recent decades there have always been individual competent patients. But recently patient competence has become a major public issue and it is believed, that it will develop further into a significant driving force in the future health system.