Bridging gaps in health? A qualitative study about bridge-building and social inequity in Danish healthcare

Merete Tonnesen; Anne-Mette Hedeager Momsen


Attendance to health appointments may pose challenges to patients, especially when living in socially disadvantaged situations, with a fragile network. Inequality in health is increasingly highlighted in Denmark. To enhance social equity in health, a non-governmental organization introduced bridge-building, where healthcare students volunteer to accompany persons in socially vulnerable situations to health appointments.The purpose of the study was to explore what bridge-building entails and which gaps bridge-building attempts to span, in a welfare state, based on equal rights to healthcare.The study is based on an ethnographic fieldwork among the stakeholders in bridge-building, using interviews and participant observation in the form of "walking fieldwork".Informants emphasized safe-making and wayfinding as important components in bridge-building, with bridge-builders acting as as-if-relatives. Bridge-building navigates in borderlands, the in-between spaces with fluid and contested borders, encompassing public, civic society, and family spheres. All informants emphasized that bridge-building covers a need in contemporary Danish healthcare.Bridge-building entails a double temporality, a here-and-now intervention where persons in vulnerable situations get social support to make it to health appointments, and a future investment in future health professionals' understanding of vulnerability in lives and barriers to health access; insights that may be valuable in their future job positions.

Læs artiklen

Udgivelsesform Videnskabelige artikler
År 2023
Udgiver International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being
Længde 12 sider


Merete Tonnesen

Merete Tonnesen

+45 2361 7480


Merete Tonnesen