U.S. doctors must become more attuned to Islamic beliefs and values that could affect the physician-patient relationship with Muslim Americans, researchers found in a recently released study. This will become even more important as the U.S. Muslim population of nearly 7 million continues to grow, they found.
In focus groups of Muslim Americans, "women would say, 'I delay care because I can't find a provider that's of the same gender. They want me to put this gown on, but I'm uncomfortable,' " says the study's lead author Aasim Padela, a Muslim emergency medicine doctor at the University of Michigan who is a visiting fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies in London.
Assessing how a preference for doctors of the same sex and anxiety about a revealing hospital gown might contribute to health care disparities between Muslims and other religious groups is tricky, Padela says, because patient databases identify individuals by ethnic group and race but not by religion.