174145 Utilizing the creative arts as a tool for public health: Bridging cultural communities

Monday, October 27, 2008: 10:45 AM

Rebecca Davis, MPH , Health Behavior and Health Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC
Michael Yonas, DrPH , School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

In an attempt to identify effective interventions, public health practitioners are often in search of innovative approaches to facilitating change. Research suggests that the creative arts provide a flexible approach to intervention across a variety of topics and contexts. This paper will present findings from a case study undertaken to explore the creative arts as an innovative and theory supported method for intervention to address public health needs.


The case study, an arts-based community project aimed at breaking cultural barriers and building community between African-American and Hispanic/Latino youth, was conducted in a rural southeastern community. Project activities occurred over a 6 month period of time. Following the arts-based approach activities, two focus groups were conducted with a total of 15 youth, along with systematic participant observations. Data coding, reduction, and analysis was conducted using Atlas ti. Thematic analysis was guided by public health theory and the Social Ecological Framework. Case study findings were compared and contrasted with the broader field of creative arts research literature.


Results provided support to using the visual arts as a tool for promoting healthy behavior in individuals, relationships, and communities. More specifically, relationships between creative arts participation and healthy behavior were identified in the following areas: self-reflection,-expression, and –efficacy; positive risk-taking; learning; social support; and empowerment. These research findings support utilizing the creative arts in the public health field as an innovative approach to prevention and intervention.

Learning Objectives:
1. Recognize key public health theories and constructs supporting the use of the arts 2. Articulate the positive impact of the arts for youth at three levels of social ecology: Individual, Interpersonal, and Community 3. Identify resources and contacts for incorporating arts activities into public health work.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: This abstract is based upon my personal research for my Master's Thesis
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.