Agency in multilingual health communication

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research / University of Hamburg, Next Generation Partnerships – Thematic Networks

Duration: 06/2023 – 05/2026

Background: The concept of 'agency' comprises heuristics to find out "who or what acts or can act and bring about something." (Helfferich 2017: 276f). This research project explores the concept of 'agency' within multilingual healthcare, recognizing its crucial role in mitigating communication challenges within medical settings. The concept of ‘agency’ will be explored as it pertains to various theoretical frameworks and allows for a nuanced understanding of multilingual communication in healthcare. By employing agency analysis, a reconstructive procedure that examines diverse entities and processes influencing healthcare outcomes, including individuals, groups, and social interactions, this project specifically targets multilingual communication within mental health services. Various forms of interaction between healthcare professionals and patients, relatives and interpreters will be analyzed. By leveraging expertise from partner institutions, this project aims to strengthen collaboration and promote interdisciplinary research to provide innovative insights into applying the concept of 'agency' within mental health services. Ultimately, given the global context of migration and linguistic diversity, this project seeks to advance multilingual healthcare practices in diverse societal contexts.

The research project consists of seven project objectives:

  • Objective 1: Strengthening the interdisciplinary international research activities on multilingual health communication.
  • Objective 2: Strengthening the partnerships (within the academic collaboration and with non-academic health care partners).
  • Objective 3: Promoting young researchers.
  • Objective 4: Expanding the collaboration network.
  • Objective 5: Improving the quality of care for migrants.
  • Objective 6: Disseminating results.
  • Objective 7: Preparations to build sustainable structures (establishing an international academic research center on diversity and inclusion in (multilingual) global healthcare communication.

Project staff: