Intercultural mediation in selected hospitals in Greece
Type of Information
National School for Public Health, KEK Diastasi, NGO Asante
Dr. Elli Ioannidi-Kapolou (Login to send email)
Contact Person Function
Sociologist of Health, Senior Researcher, Dept. of Sociology, NSPH.
The Program focuses and highlights the value of Intercultural Mediation in Healthcare as a dynamic process which aims to facilitate effective communication and contact between immigrants (mainly third country nationals) and their doctors, the nursing staff and administration of hospitals, to achieve better access to health care, taking into account their ethnicity and their cultural backgrounds. For the support of the intercultural mediators a coaching system was applied and a Call Center Service was established. The Intercultural Mediators provided services in accordance with clear instructions they had received during their training sessions and strict compliance with the rules of the cultural mediators Ethical Code.
The project was implemented in two phases (the first phase included hospitals in the broader area of Athens and Thessaloniki, and in the second phase hospitals all over Greece)
- Phase one : 14/3/2011- 30/6/2011
- Phase two: 30/3/2012- 30/6/2012
Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption
The Program focuses and highlights the value of Intercultural Mediation in Healthcare as a dynamic process which aims to facilitate effective communication and contact between immigrants (mainly third country nationals) and their doctors, the nursing staff and administration of hospitals, to achieve better access to health care, taking into account their ethnicity and their cultural backgrounds.
How does it work
Intercultural Mediators in hospitals acquire expertise in the areas of health and interculturalism and develop appropriate skills and practices of mediation in order to take charge of their role and provide reliable services within highly demanding environment of Greek hospitals.
The Intercultural Mediation Program aims :
- To raise awareness of public servants to deliver friendly prevention and treatment services to migrants
- To familiarize the hospital staff to the new conditions and requirements imposed by the contacts with immigrant patients
- To raise awareness of the hospital staff to the cultural characteristics of people coming from different cultural environments, which lead to successful handling of complex problems that occur under stress and culture shock
- To facilitate workers in their daily practice and effectively support the medical procedures when encountered with cultural barriers.
- To upgrade the quality of public health services and, therefore, increase the level of use by third countries’ nationals, thus guarantee safeguard public health.
During the first phase of the program in 2011, 119 people worked as intercultural mediators - Supervisors, Coordinators, Mediators and Call Center Agents
Hospitals that participated in 2011: Total number: 21 of which 16 in Athens and five in Thessaloniki.
During the second phase of the program in 2012, a total of 105 people (immigrants and EU citizens) worked as intercultural mediators in 25 hospitals in Greece - 9 hospitals in Athens, three in Thessaloniki and 13 in other cities. Among the mediators there were 20 nationalities speaking about 28 different languages/dialects.
The mediators selected to participate in the project followed a 40-hour training course in class and elearning on: Perception of Health and Illness, Health care (within the structures of the National Health System), Intercultural Mediation, Networking and Duties of the Mediator and Ethics.
In the first phase in 2011 the target was to provide services to 1,000 patients within the two month period that the program lasted. At the end of this period services were provided to 5,104 patients with immigrant background in 21 hospitals in Athens and Thessaloniki.
In the second phase, in 2012, services were provided to 11,279 patients at 25 hospitals all over Greece - 1,560 in April, 5,047 in May and 4,672 in June.
There was an evaluation for everyone who took part in this project, at both phases and an external evaluation by an independent body. According to the results the project was successful and necessary and everyone involved asked for its continuation. At the same time, there were several letters from hospital managers addressed to the scientific coordinator of the project requiring the continuation of the project. Moreover, hospitals that were not included in the project sent requests to include them, if possible, in a later phase, as they consider it very helpful in the provision of services to migrants.
The clear recommendation is to find ways to use the already trained cultural mediators in hospitals which concentrate big numbers of migrants. It is evident, that with the economic crisis the hospitals have no budget to hire them permanently at this stage.
Who will benefit?
The target population were third country nationals along with the medical and administrative staff of Greek hospitals. Cultural mediators assisted both migrants and doctors and staff in hospitals as they facilitated the work of the medical and nursing staff in cases of cultural diversities and language barriers.
Source of funding and Resources used
The project was Co-financed by national funds, Ministry of Interior (25%) and the European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals (75%).