From Heritage to Health: An Arts-Centered Approach to Cultural Competence


Welcome!  From Heritage to Health: An Arts - Centered Approach to Cultural Competence is a multi-year project aimed at bringing healthcare providers closer to patients, using various art forms and stories from folklorists as a bridge between western "medical practices" and personal beliefs and traditions.  From Heritage to Health is a joint venture of the Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation and City Lore.  We gratefully acknowlege the funding for this project received from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Westchester Medical Health Network Center for Regional Healthcare Innovation. 

Background:  The growing diversity of the U.S. population makes it challenging for the healthcare team to adequately address the specific needs of each diverse group of patients.  Health professionals and their patients often come from different cultures and speak different languages, both verbally and non-verbally.  This makes it difficult to offer healthcare solutions that will be acceptable to patietns from differing cultural backgrounds.  

Individuals' beliefs relating to health and spirituality in many of the world's cultures are conveyed through the arts - not as they are experienced in books or movies, but as they are lived and incorporated into daily lives.  Through stories, poems, pictures, sculpture and other art forms, the arts are a way to engage people in non-threatening ways.  Using the arts to engage the patient and communicate takes out the barriers of medical terminology and language differences.  It provides a common platform to establish rapport and communication that does not negate patients' health beleifs or alienate them in the process.  

The Heritage to Health project has included a learner needs assessment, public and professional presentations, eLearning courses, and other forms of educational outreach that enhances cultural competency in healthcare.  Programs to date have addressed cocepts of cultural health, applying cultural health concepts in clinical practice, and - coming soon! - an arts-centered approach to issues in death and dying.

Toolkit: Below are links to two eLearning courses developed through this project, and links to other resources - articles, websites, videos, poems, etc. that will expand your understanding of cultural aspects of health.  These resources will also sensitize you to the wide diversity of cultural beliefs related to heatlh and inspire you to new ways of working with patients.




Concepts to Cultural Health     

Dealing with Patients from Other Cultures

Nursing 2019: Understanding Transcultural Nursing

Quizlet: Cultural Diversity

Clinical Application of Cultural Health

Dealing with Patients from Other Cultures

Religious Diversity: Practical Points for Healthcare Providers


Cultural Traditions and Healing Beliefs of Some Older Adults

A Culturally-Sensitive Approach to Elderly Patients


Physical Contact Varies by Culture

No Touching: The Countries that Dislike Physical Contact the Most

Personal Space: Don't Stand Too Close to Me

Nursing 2019: Space Invasion (WK)

Body Language and Personal Space

Asian Cultural Health

Traditional Asian Beliefs & Healing Practices

Working with Asian American Patients

Cultural Values of Asian Patients and Families

Chinese Personal Space and Touching

Latino/Hispanic/Mexican Cultural Health

Cultural Insights: Communicating with Hispanics/Latinos

Understanding the Hispanic/Latino Patient

A Review of Curanderismo and Healing Practices Among Mexicans and Mexican Americans

Cultural Values of Latino Patients and Families

Hispanic & Latino Cultures: Health and Illness Beliefs

Muslim Cultural Health

Cultural Competence in Nursing Muslim Patients

Arab Cultural Values

The Crescent of Care: A Nursing Model to Guide the Care of Arab Muslim Patients