Cultural brokering in pregnancy care: A critical review

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2023 Nov;163(2):357-366. doi: 10.1002/ijgo.15063. Epub 2023 Sep 8.


People who speak languages other than English face structural barriers in accessing the US healthcare system. With a growing number of people living in countries other than their countries of birth, the impact of language and cultural differences between patients and care teams on quality care is global. Cultural brokering presents a unique opportunity to enhance communication and trust between patients and clinicians from different cultural backgrounds during pregnancy care-a critical window for engaging families in the healthcare system. This critical review aims to synthesize literature describing cultural brokering in pregnancy care. We searched keywords relating to cultural brokering, pregnancy, and language in PubMed, Embase, and CINAHL and traced references of screened articles. Our search identified 33 articles. We found that cultural brokering is not clearly defined in the current literature. Few of the articles provided information about language concordance between cultural brokers and patients or clinicians. No article described the impact of cultural brokering on health outcomes. Facilitators of cultural brokering included: interprofessional collaboration within the care team, feeling a family connection between the cultural broker and patients, and cultivating trust between the cultural broker and clinicians. Barriers to cultural brokering included: misunderstanding the responsibilities, difficulty maintaining personal boundaries, and limited availability and accessibility of cultural brokers. We propose cultural brokering as interactions that cover four key aims: (1) language support; (2) bridging cultural differences; (3) social support and advocacy; and (4) navigation of the healthcare system. Clinicians, researchers, and policymakers should develop consistent language around cultural brokering in pregnancy care and examine the impact of cultural brokers on health outcomes.

Keywords: cross-cultural health care; cultural brokering; cultural humility; intercultural communication; maternal health; pregnancy care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Communication*
  • Culturally Competent Care*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Social Support