Self-efficacy, a social psychology concept, is defined as the likelihood of an individual engaging in health behaviors. Correctly understood, authors posit that health care providers and researchers have an ethical mandate to foster self-efficacy in patients. Further, self-efficacy promotes the commonly ascribed moral principles of respect for the person as a being of worth and fosters autonomy.
This paper provides an overview of the concept of self-efficacy, provides a brief discussion on the difference between self-esteem and self-efficacy, and discusses its relationship to health promotion and selected moral principles. Health care providers and researchers are challenged to foster self-efficacy among patients and others as a means to facilitate health promotion.
The continuous ethical challenge for health care providers, health promotion advocates and researchers is to remain mindful of the complexity of the opportunity to empower others, the privilege to improve the quality of life for others and the responsibility to remain true to the ethical principles at all times. Consideration of self-efficacy as an ethical mandate remains a vital element within health promotion practice and research.