Intercultural intervention in the health and social care sectors: How to train students


  • Sylvie Tétreault HES-SO, HETSL Lausanne
  • Dominique Mercure Université Laurentienne
  • Carine Bétrisey HES-SO, HETSL Lausanne
  • Yvan Leanza Université Laval
  • Alida Gulfi HES-SO HETS-FR Fribourg
  • Camille Brisset Université de Bordeaux
  • Nicolas Kühne HES-SO, HETSL Lausanne


Diversity, intercultural intervention, training, occupational therapy, social work


Preparing health and social care students to practice in a context of diversity is an educational challenge. Guidelines for the adoption of theoretical models and the teaching of pedagogical content remain unclear. Using the “world café” method, this study aims to validate recommendations facilitating the acquisition of intercultural competences and enriching them with various partners. The 41 participants indicated the need to improve initial training and to include specific courses on intercultural intervention using a variety of teaching methods. Several suggest consolidating internship supervisors’ prior learnings regarding this approach. Considering the increase of individuals from different cultural backgrounds, it is important to adjust training programs.

Author Biographies

Sylvie Tétreault, HES-SO, HETSL Lausanne

is currently a retired professor. Following training in occupational therapy (1981), she worked in the rehabilitation field with a particular interest in the family of the person living with a disability. She was a professor at the Université Laval (1985-2014) and at the Haute École Spécialisée de Suisse occidentale (2014-2019). She has published more than one hundred articles and scientific conferences worldwide. Her research interests focus on the person living with a disability, their family, and the different strategies to support them in their respective development.

Dominique Mercure, Université Laurentienne

is an associate professor at the École de service social of the Université Laurentienne (Ontario) where she teaches courses on theory-practice intervention and integration. Interested in the links between practice, training, and research, her doctorate in educational psychology focuses on the learning difficulties related to international internships. Her research aims to better understand knowledge mobilization in different field contexts,  such as community health in Northern India and isolated regions in Canada’s High Artic. Lately, she is interested in the professional spill overs transposed to the return of mobility and is collaborating with diverse European training institutions with the aim to develop a support system  tailored to the specific needs of international internships.

Carine Bétrisey, HES-SO, HETSL Lausanne

has been a research coordinator at the Haute école de travail social et de la santé de Lausanne (Switzerland) in connection with work on intercul- tural intervention. During her research activities in Switzerland and Canada, including her doctoral thesis completed at the Université Laval (Québec), she was interested in the families of children living with a disability, and particularly those from immigrant backgrounds. The themes of her research focus on stereotypes and prejudices, as well as discrimination and stigmatization in all forms. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Université de Sherbrooke where she is interested in agism towards the elderly and means to counter it. 

Yvan Leanza, Université Laval

directs the Psychologie et Cultures laboratory (www.labo-psycholo- After several migratory movements between Switzerland and Canada, he is currently a full professor at the École de psychology of the Université Laval (Québec) where he teaches psychology and intercultural intervention. His research focuses on intervention in the context of diversity and is organized around two main themes: the relationship with th Other and working with interpreters (an extreme form of intercultural intervention). He is one of the founders and director of the scholarly journal: Alterstice – Revue internationale de la recherche interculturelle ( He is a regular member or collaborator of many research groups: Institut universitaire SHERPA (; CELAT (, and EDIQ ( 

Alida Gulfi, HES-SO HETS-FR Fribourg

is a full professor at the Haute école de travail social de Fribourg. Her research themes focus on intercultural approach and intervention. Her recent work focused on interprofessional collaboration, the transition between training and entry into the workplace for social work graduates as well as the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on professionals and the public in the social-health field. She possesses qualitative and quantitative research competencies. 

Camille Brisset, Université de Bordeaux

is a lecturer in developmental and cross-cultural psychology at the Université de Bordeaux (France). Her research themes are anchored in the Bronfenbrenner (1979) ecological model. She is interested in human development in context throughout the lifespan from two complmentary angles: the perspective of individuals through their psychosocial and socio-relational adaptation during periods of developmental and/or cultural transition; and that of those working in the field, in health and social care institutions, who are mandated to accompany these transitions. 

Nicolas Kühne, HES-SO, HETSL Lausanne

is a full professor at the Haute école de travail social et de la santé de Lausanne (Switzerland). His research themes focus on occupational therapy, older people, human occupations, and mental health. He has participated in a study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the well-being and quality of life of the elderly in health and social care centres and of their caregivers. He is director of the Revue Francophone de Recherche en Ergothérapie (RFRE). He co-directs the Occupations Humaines et Santé (OHS) network of the HETSL. 


Tétreault, S., et Guillez, P. (Dir.) (2014). Guide pratique de recherche en réadaptation. Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgique : De Boeck

Tétreault, S., Gulfi, A., et Kühne, N. (2016). Le rapport à l’Autre : exploration de son évolution chez les étudiants en travail social et en ergothérapie. Projet FNS, Lausanne, Suisse.

Bétrisey, C., Tétreault, S., Mercure, D., Kühne, N., Leanza, Y., Gulfi, A., et Brisset, C. (2019). Promouvoir l’intervention interculturelle dans les milieux de pratique de la santé et du social. Reiso, Revue d’information Social et Santé de Suisse romande, mis en ligne le 5 septembre 2019. https://www.

Beagan, B. L. (2015). Approaches to culture and diversity: A critical synthesis of occupational therapy literature. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 82(5), 272-282. doi: 10.1177/0008417414567530

Bredendiek, M., et Krewer, B. (2003). Le développement de la construction de l’autre culturel. Vers la réflexion anthropologique de l’autrui dans l’interculturel. Bulletin de l’Association pour la recherche interculturelle, 39, 79-99.

Brown, J., Isaacs, D., et la World Café Community (CWC) (2005). The World Café Book: Shaping our futures through conversations that matter. San Francisco, CA: Berett-Koehler Publishers.

Brown, J., Margulies, N., et Isaacs, D. (1998). Welcome to the World Café (Affiche). Fielding Graduate University, Mill Valley, CA.

Cai, D.-Y. (2016). A concept analysis of cultural competence. International Journal of Nursing Sciences, 3(3), 268-273.

Campinha-Bacote, J. (2002). The process of cultural competence in the delivery of healthcare services: A model of care. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 13(3),

Chang, W.-L., et Chen, S.T. (2015). The impact of world café on entrepreneurial planning capability. Journal of Business Research, 68(6), 1283-1290.

Cohen-Emerique, M. (2011). Pour une approche interculturelle en travail social : théories et pratiques. Rennes, France : Presses de l’École des Hautes Études en Santé Publique.

Conley, C. L., Deck, S. M., Miller, J. J., et Borders, K. (2017). Improving the cultural competency of social work students with a social privilege activity. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 37(3), 234-248.

Bertrand, K., L’Espérance, N., et Aranda, J.F. (2014). La méthode de la revue systématique : Illustration provenant du domaine de la toxicomanie et des troubles mentaux concomitants chez les jeunes. Dans M. Corbière, et N. Larivière (Dir.), Méthodes qualitatives, quantitatives et mixtes (pp. 181-202). Québec, Canada : Presses de l’Université du Québec.

Creswell, J. W. (2014) Research design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches. 4e éd. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Donoso Brown, E. V., Muñoz, J. P., et Powell, J. M. (2011). Multicultural training in the United States: A survey of occupational therapy programs. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 25(2-3), 178-193.

Éthier, S., et Côté, A.-S. (2018). Le world café comme outil de mobilisation pour la sensibilisation à la maltraitance envers les proches aidants à Québec. Service Social, 64(1), 65-78. https://doi. org/10.7202/1055891ar

Fedor, C.-G. (2014). Stereotypes and prejudice in the perception of the “Other”. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 149(5), 321-326.

Feize, L., et Gonzalez, J. (2018). A model of cultural competency in social work as seen through the lens of self-awareness. Social Work Education, 37(4), 472-489. 79.2017.1423049

Fisher-Borne, M., Cain, J. M., et Martin, S. L. (2015). From mastery to accountability: Cultural humility as an alternative to cultural competence. Social Work Education, 34(2), 165-181. https://

Govender, P., Mpanza, D. M., Carey, T., Jiyane, K., Andrews, B., et Mashele, S. (2017). Exploring cultural competence amongst OT students. Occupational Therapy International, 4, 2179781, 1-8.

Hall, J. C., et Theriot, M. T. (2016). Developing multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills: Diversity training makes a difference? Multicultural Perspectives, 18(1), 35-41. 80/15210960.2016.1125742

Hammell, K. R. (2013). Occupation, well-being, and culture: Theory and cultural humility. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 80(4), 224-234.

Henderson, S., Horne, M., Hills, R., et Kendall, E. (2018). Cultural competence in healthcare in the community: A concept analysis. Health and Social Care in the Community, 26(4), 590-603. https://

Hong, J. S., Stokes, C., Byoun, S.-J., Furuto, S. B. C. L., et Kim, Y. S. (2011). Integrating cultural competency in South Korean social work education. International Social Work, 56(2), 180-192. https://

Johnstone, M. J., et Kanitsaki, O. (2008). The politics of resistance to workplace cultural diversity education for health service providers: An Australian study. Race Ethnicity and Education, 11(2), 133-154.

Kohli, H. K., Huber, R., et Faul, A. C. (2010). Historical and theoretical development of culturally competent social work practice. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 30(3), 252-271. 10.1080/08841233.2010.499091

Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., et Saldaña, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis. 3e éd. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Murden, R., Norman, A., Ross, J., Sturdivant, E., Kedia, M., et Shah, S. (2008). Occupational therapy students’ perceptions of their cultural awareness and competency. Occupational Therapy International, 15(3), 191-203.

Nadan, Y. (2016). Teaching Note-Revisiting stereotypes: Enhancing cultural awareness through a web-based tool. Journal of Social Work Education, 52(1), 50-56. 37797.2016.1113054

Ogay, T., et Edelmann, D. (2011). Penser l’interculturalité dans la formation des professionnels : l’incontournable dialectique de la différence culturelle. Dans A. Lavanchy, A. Gajardo et F. Dervin (Dir.), Anthropologie de l’interculturalité (pp. 47-71). Paris, France : L’Harmattan.

Osteen, P. J., Vanidestine, T. J., et Sharpe, T. L. (2013). Multicultural curriculum and MSW students’ attitudes about race and diversity. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 33(2), 111-128. https://dx.doi. org/10.1080/08841233.2013.775211

Pitner, R. O., Priester, M. A., Lackey, R., et Duvall, D. (2017). A dedicated diversity course or an infusion model? Exploring which strategy is more effective in social work pedagogy. Journal of Social Work Education, 54(1), 49-60.

Pooremamali, P., Persson, D., et Eklund, M. (2011). Occupational therapists’ experience of working with immigrant clients in mental health care. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 18(2), 109-121.

Reyneke, R. P. (2017). Apples and pears: Engaging social work students in social dialogue. Research on Social Work Practice, 27(2), 239-247.

Rosen, D., McCall, J., et Goodkind, S. (2017). Teaching critical self-reflection through the lens of cultural humility: An assignment in a social work diversity course. Social Work Education, 36(3), 289-298.

Sales, I., Jonkman, L., Connor, S., et Hall, D. (2013). A comparison of educational interventions to enhance cultural competency in pharmacy students. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 77(4), 76.

Sonn, I., et Vermeulen, N. (2018). Occupational therapy students’ experiences and perceptions of culture during fieldwork education. South African Journal of Occupational Therapy, 48(1), 34-39.

Taff, S. D., et Blash, D. (2017). Diversity and inclusion in occupational therapy: Where we are, where we must go. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 31(1), 72-83. 380577.2016.1270479

Warde, B. (2012). The cultural genogram: Enhancing the cultural competency of social work students. Social Work Education, 31(5), 570-586.

Wimpenny, K., Lewis, L., Roe, S., Désiron, H., Gordon, I., et Waters, S. (2016). Preparation for an uncertain world: International curriculum development for mental health occupational therapy. World Federation of Occupational Therapists Bulletin, 72(1), 5-15. 8.2016.1161960



How to Cite

Tétreault, S., Mercure, D., Bétrisey, C., Leanza, Y., Gulfi, A., Brisset, C., & Kühne, N. (2022). Intercultural intervention in the health and social care sectors: How to train students. McGill Journal of Education / Revue Des Sciences De l’éducation De McGill, 57(3), 199–227. Retrieved from