Interculturalidad and Chilean health: Stakeholder perceptions and the intercultural hospital delivery model

  • Elizabeth Lincoln
  • Bryan A. Liang
  • Tim K. Mackey
Keywords: Intercultural healthcare, healthcare policy, Indigenous Peoples, Mapuche, Makewe Hospital, traditional medicine


This study examined interculturality of Indigenous Mapuche healthcare in Chile’s Makewe Hospital. We conducted a descriptive, qualitative, semi-structured, cross-sectional pilot study interviewing key stakeholders, resulting in 11 interviews of patients, Mapuche and occidental providers, public health professionals, administration, and community leaders. We focused on six topics: services and preferences, community participation, interculturality, access to culturally appropriate care, government integration of Indigenous culture and interculturality promotion, and the future of Indigenous care. All groups believed in the need for both kinds of care. However, for community participation, Mapuche indicated no knowledge of interculturality in healthcare, nor any participation, compared with some professionals who believed there was a focus on it. Interculturality expressed by respect for Mapuche ethnomedicine was uniform; however, integration did not appear to Mapuche as effective, whereas professionals and administration interpreted interculturality as a philosophical goal. Regarding culturally appropriate access, Mapuche responses were focused on practical issues, whereas administration and professionals responded by explaining exclusion of Mapuche machi providers as being sensitive to community desires. Government promotion of interculturality was uniformly agreed to be poor. Finally, the future of Indigenous care was seen by Mapuche both optimistically and pessimistically, due to concerns regarding general cultural preservation, whereas professionals emphasized the need to promote preservation. These results indicate a fractionated understanding of definitions and goals among stakeholders. Future policy should focus upon a broader group to implement interculturality, including nongovernmental organizations, academics, and cultural advisors, combined with community-based participatory research, to promote evidence-based, efficient policy efforts and implementation for interculturality in health for the Mapuche.

Research Papers