Communication Barriers in Maternity Care of Allophone Migrants: Experiences of Women, Healthcare Professionals and Intercultural Interpreters.

Origlia Ikhilor, Paola; Hasenberg, Gabriele; Kurth, Elisabeth; Asefaw, Fana; Pehlke‐Milde, Jessica; Cignacco Müller, Eva (2019). Communication Barriers in Maternity Care of Allophone Migrants: Experiences of Women, Healthcare Professionals and Intercultural Interpreters. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 75(10), pp. 2200-2210. Wiley-Blackwell 10.1111/jan.14093

jan.14093.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (401kB) | Preview

Aim To describe communication barriers faced by allophone migrant women in maternity care provision from the perspectives of migrant women, healthcare professionals, and intercultural interpreters. Background Perinatal health inequality of migrant women hinges on barriers to services, with a major barrier being language. Their care is often also perceived as demanding due to conflicting values or complex situations. Potentially divergent perceptions of users and providers may hinder efficient communication. Design Qualitative explorative study. Methods A convenience sample of 36 participants was recruited in the German speaking region of Switzerland. The sample consisted of four Albanian and six Tigrinya speaking women, 22 healthcare professionals and four intercultural interpreters (March–June 2016) who participated in three focus group discussions and seven semi‐structured interviews. Audio recordings of the discussions and interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed. Results The analysis revealed three main themes: the challenge of understanding each other's world, communication breakdowns and imposed health services. Without interpretation communication was reduced to a bare minimum and thus insufficient to adequately inform women about treatment and address their expectations and needs. Conclusion A primary step in dismantling barriers is guaranteed intercultural interpreting services. Additionally, healthcare professionals need to continuously develop and reflect on their transcultural communication. Institutions must enable professionals to respond flexibly to allophone women's needs and to offer care options that are safe and in accordance to their cultural values. Impact Our results give the foundation of tenable care of allophonic women and emphasize the importance of linguistic understanding in care quality.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Health Professions > Midwifery


Origlia Ikhilor, Paola0000-0002-7140-7559;
Hasenberg, Gabriele;
Kurth, Elisabeth;
Asefaw, Fana;
Pehlke‐Milde, Jessica and
Cignacco Müller, Eva0000-0001-6773-4015


H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine






[UNSPECIFIED] Swiss Federal Office of Public Health ; [UNSPECIFIED] Swiss Agency for Combating Racism






Jean Anthony Grand-Guillaume-Perrenoud

Date Deposited:

24 Sep 2019 11:39

Last Modified:

10 Feb 2021 16:08

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

access to health care, communication barriers, health services needs and demand, intercultural interpreter, maternal health services, midwifery, migrants, nursing, professional– patient relations




Actions (login required)

View Item View Item
Provide Feedback