Preferences and experiences of Muslim patients and families

10th August 2020

Researchers based at the Cicely Saunders Institute Centre for Global Health have carried out a study of the experiences and preferences of Muslim patients and families in Muslim-majority countries. There are an estimated 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide, largely living in low-and middle-income countries.  Care for people with progressive illness should be person-centred and account for their cultural values and spiritual beliefs.

The research team carried out a systematic review of the published evidence, including grey literature.  From an initial search of 5098 papers they identified 30 papers.  98% of research participants in these studies were suffering from advanced cancer.

Despite the scarcity and low quality of the evidence, the analysis revealed core themes:  selflessness (burden to others and caregiver responsibilities), ambivalence (hope and hopelessness) and strong beliefs in Islam (beliefs in death and afterlife).

The researchers identified conflicts in diagnosis disclosure and total pain burden experienced by both patients and families.  They conclude that to achieve palliative care for all, in line with the ‘total pain’ model, beliefs must be identified and understood in relation to decision-making processes and practices.

Abdullah R, Guo P, Harding R. Preferences and experiences of Muslim patients and their families in Muslim-majority countries for end-of-life care: a systematic review and thematic analysis. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2020 Jul 10;. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2020.06.032. [Epub ahead of print] Review. PubMed PMID: 32659320.