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Keywords:

  • empowerment;
  • mental illness;
  • reliability;
  • construct validity;
  • quality of life;
  • stigma

Empowerment has become a widespread concept in various social policy contexts referring to different marginalized groups. Empowerment has also been focused within the mental health field although little empirical research exists. The aim of the present study was to investigate internal consistency and construct validity of the Swedish version of an empowerment scale developed for people with a mental illness, Making Decisions. Ninety-two persons were subject to an interview also comprising assessments of quality of life, needs for care, psychiatric symptoms, psychosocial functioning, aspects of the social network, rejection experiences and attitudes of devaluation/discrimination towards people with mental illness. The results showed that the overall scale and the subscales had a good internal consistency, except for the subscale power–powerlessness. A factor analysis revealed two superordinate factors, self-esteem and activism and community and power, with a satisfactory internal consistency. These two factors showed a good construct validity with expected associations to validation measures. Stigma was most markedly associated with self-esteem and activism, and a higher level of education was most strongly associated with community and power. In conclusion, the Swedish version Making Decisions may well be used in further studies of empowerment among people with a mental illness.