Cultural Heritage and Healthcare: A Comprehensive Exploration

Cultural heritage is an intricate tapestry woven from an individual's traditions, culture, ethnicity, and the prism through which life is perceived. It stands as a defining factor that sets individuals, families, and communities apart. Defined as "the range of contemporary activities, meanings, and behaviors that we draw from them" (UMASS Amherst, 2012), cultural heritage is a living legacy crafted by communities and passed down through generations. This essay explores the critical role of cultural heritage assessment in healthcare, particularly for nurses, providing insights into patients' cultural backgrounds to enhance the delivery of patient-centered care.

Understanding Cultural Heritage in Healthcare

Cultural heritage assessment is pivotal in furnishing patient-centered care, endowing nurses with a profound understanding of patients' beliefs about sickness and diseases. According to Javis (2012), this assessment encapsulates information about the cultural beliefs and practices of families and ethnic religious communities. It serves as a valuable tool for nurses to evaluate patients holistically, considering their family history, ancestral origins, and ethnic background. In the United States, characterized by a rich tapestry of cultures, the heritage assessment tool becomes indispensable for nurses striving to achieve cultural competence in their practice.

Get quality help now
checked Verified writer

Proficient in: Belief

star star star star 4.7 (657)

“ Really polite, and a great writer! Task done as described and better, responded to all my questions promptly too! ”

avatar avatar avatar
+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

The Role of Heritage Assessment in Healthcare

Health assessment tools, such as the one developed by Spector, R.E, play a crucial role in understanding patients' traditional health beliefs and practices. Cultural competence, as emphasized by Edelman and Mandle (2010), is imperative for nurses to provide care that aligns with the cultural backgrounds of individuals. The heritage assessment tool, featuring 29 questions, aids nurses in identifying a patient's ethnic, cultural, and religious background.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

You won’t be charged yet!

To illustrate its practical application, this paper will evaluate three families from diverse cultural backgrounds: Nigeria (West Africa), the Philippines (Asia), and India.

Exploring Cultural Heritage: Case Studies

Originating from Nigeria, a country with rich cultural diversity comprising tribes like the Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Ibibo, and Tivi, the student conducting this study reflects on the deep-rooted cultural practices. Nigerians take pride in their yearly festivals, emphasizing family reunions, dancing, and socializing, believing it contributes to maintaining good health. Rooted in natural farming practices, they avoid artificial fertilizers, subscribing to herbal medicine for disease prevention and treatment, such as using herbs and roots for conditions like malaria and Typhoid fever.

The second family, hailing from the Philippines, exemplifies a culture deeply entrenched in traditional practices. Their preference for marrying within their race and their reliance on rice, roots, and herbs for health maintenance showcase the significance of cultural preservation. Moreover, practices like acupuncture, rooted in their medicinal traditions, find acceptance in contemporary healthcare practices.

The third family, originating from India but living in the United States, maintains strong ties to their cultural beliefs. Despite growing up in a different cultural milieu, they uphold their religious values, marry within their tribe, and embrace traditional clothing and food. Their belief in the power of prayer and herbal remedies for health maintenance underscores the enduring influence of cultural heritage.

The Impact of Cultural Heritage on Healthcare Decision-Making

Through interviews and heritage assessments, it becomes evident that individuals and families from diverse cultural backgrounds are deeply rooted in their traditions, values, beliefs, and practices. The preservation of cultural heritage is a matter of pride and dignity for these families, impacting their health-related decisions and lifestyle choices. As healthcare professionals, especially frontline workers like nurses, it is imperative to recognize, respect, and dignify these diverse cultural backgrounds. The heritage assessment tool emerges as an invaluable guide, equipping healthcare workers with the insight needed to navigate the intricate relationship between culture and health.

As future healthcare practitioners, students must acquire a deep understanding of cultural nuances to provide holistic and culturally competent care in the community. The depth of cultural heritage goes beyond surface-level practices; it delves into the intricacies of health maintenance, protection, and restoration. For instance, the Nigerian families' reliance on herbal medicine for diseases like malaria and the Filipino families' acceptance of acupuncture as a traditional health practice exemplify the profound influence of cultural heritage on healthcare choices.

Challenges and Opportunities in Cultural Competence

While acknowledging the importance of cultural heritage in healthcare, it is essential to address the challenges and opportunities in achieving cultural competence. The globalization of healthcare has brought about a melting pot of cultures, demanding that healthcare professionals adapt to diverse belief systems and practices. Challenges may arise from misconceptions, stereotyping, or a lack of awareness about certain cultural nuances. However, embracing these challenges presents opportunities for growth, learning, and the development of more inclusive healthcare practices.

Nurses, as integral members of the healthcare system, must actively engage in continuous education and training to enhance their cultural competence. This involves not only understanding the cultural backgrounds of patients but also fostering an environment of cultural sensitivity within healthcare institutions. Collaborative efforts between healthcare organizations and educational institutions can further facilitate the integration of cultural competence into nursing curricula, ensuring that future generations of healthcare professionals are well-equipped to navigate the complexities of cultural diversity.

Cultural Heritage and Healthcare Policy

As we delve deeper into the intersection of cultural heritage and healthcare, it is crucial to consider the role of healthcare policies in fostering an environment that respects and accommodates diverse cultural backgrounds. Policymakers must recognize the significance of cultural competence in healthcare delivery and formulate policies that promote inclusivity and cultural sensitivity.

One avenue for policy development is the integration of cultural competence training into the curriculum for healthcare professionals. By mandating education on cultural awareness, healthcare policies can pave the way for a more informed and culturally sensitive healthcare workforce. Furthermore, policies can encourage research on the impact of cultural heritage on health outcomes, fostering a deeper understanding of the nuances involved.

Additionally, healthcare policies should address the accessibility of culturally tailored healthcare services. This includes the provision of interpreters, culturally sensitive educational materials, and the incorporation of traditional healing practices into mainstream healthcare where appropriate. Such measures can bridge gaps in healthcare delivery and enhance the overall quality of care for individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Conclusion: Embracing Diversity for Holistic Healthcare

In conclusion, cultural heritage is a dynamic force that significantly influences individuals' health beliefs, practices, and decision-making processes. The heritage assessment tool serves as a beacon, guiding healthcare professionals in understanding the diverse cultural backgrounds of patients. Through the exploration of case studies from Nigeria, the Philippines, and India, it is evident that cultural heritage plays a central role in shaping healthcare choices and maintaining a sense of identity and pride.

The journey towards cultural competence in healthcare involves recognizing the impact of cultural heritage, addressing challenges, and seizing opportunities for growth. As healthcare professionals strive to provide patient-centered care, the appreciation and integration of cultural diversity become imperative. By embracing cultural heritage, healthcare practitioners contribute to the creation of a more inclusive and effective healthcare system, where individuals from all cultural backgrounds receive care that is respectful, dignified, and aligned with their unique beliefs and values.

Updated: Dec 15, 2023
Cite this page

Cultural Heritage and Healthcare: A Comprehensive Exploration. (2016, Jul 09). Retrieved from

Cultural Heritage and Healthcare: A Comprehensive Exploration essay
Live chat  with support 24/7

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment