Intercultural mediators in Belgian hospitals: Demographic and professional characteristics and work experiences

Rose-Lima Van Keer, Sarah Machado Fernandez, Johan Bilsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objective: To investigate the 1) socio-demographic characteristics, 2) working environment, 3) tasks and responsibilities and 4) work experiences of intercultural mediators (IMs) working in Belgian hospitals. Methods: Cross-sectional quantitative survey among all IMs working in Flemish and Brussels hospitals (n = 66). Data were descriptively analyzed. Meaningful associations between variables were also studied. Results: Most IMs are young women from first- and second-generation migrant groups with different levels of education. They work under different superiors and most IMs are not employed full-time. They work mainly with patients from their own ethnic group. Mostly they intervene directly in daily intercultural communication, as per their official task description, but they also perform other tasks, such as offering support to patients/families/staff/management. IMs would prefer more of the tasks they perform to be formalized. Furthermore, they want to have policy-making responsibilities. IMs have positive and negative work experiences, e.g. working overtime. Conclusions: IMs’ socio-demographic characteristics (ethnic origin - sex - education) and official task description is only adapted to needs in the workplace to a limited extent. Furthermore, intercultural mediation is poorly integrated into hospitals’ organizational structure. Practice implications: Different measures are needed, including tailored education and offering IMs enough organizational support and policy responsibilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-172
Number of pages8
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Intercultural mediators in Belgian hospitals: Demographic and professional characteristics and work experiences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this