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BioMed Research International
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 1979153, 10 pages
Research Article

Health Brokers: How Can They Help Deal with the Wickedness of Public Health Problems?

1Department of Health Promotion, NUTRIM School for Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, Netherlands
2Department Tranzo, Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Tilburg University, P.O. Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, Netherlands

Correspondence should be addressed to Celeste E. van Rinsum

Received 14 December 2016; Revised 7 April 2017; Accepted 27 April 2017; Published 25 May 2017

Academic Editor: Sabine Rohrmann

Copyright © 2017 Celeste E. van Rinsum et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. The role of health broker is a relatively new one in public health. Health brokers aim to create support for efforts to optimise health promotion in complex or even “wicked” public health contexts by facilitating intersectoral collaborations and by exchanging knowledge with different stakeholders. The current study aimed to explore the role of health brokers, by examining the motivational, contextual, and behaviour-related factors they have to deal with. Methods. Fifteen professionals from various backgrounds and from various policy and practice organisations were recruited for a semistructured interview. To structure the interviews, we developed the “Health Broker Wheel” (HBW), a framework we then specified with more details derived from the interviews. Results. We identified seven primary types of behaviour that health brokers need to engage in: recognizing opportunities, agenda setting, implementing, network formation, intersectoral collaboration, adaptive managing, and leadership. Determinants of health brokers’ behaviours were identified and categorised as capability, opportunities, motivation, and local or national contextual factors. Conclusion. The health brokers’ role can be seen as an operational approach and is visualised in the HBW. This framework can assist further research to monitor and evaluate this role, and health promotion practitioners can use it as a tool to implement the health brokers’ role and to facilitate intersectoral collaboration.