Healthcare providers can better meet the needs of American Muslim patients

May 31, 2012

A new study sheds some light on how health care providers can better meet the cultural needs of American Muslim patients.

Michigan is home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the U.S.  Some Muslim patients report that they experience discrimination in health care settings.

Researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan interviewed groups of Muslim men and women from different backgrounds attending mosques in Metro Detroit.  

Dr. Aasim Padela is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and the Director of the Initiative on Islam and Medicine at the University of Chicago, and the lead author of the study.  

He says patients may not always share cultural information, but providers can ask open- ended questions in a non-judgmental way.

"As we seek to provide more culturally competent and patient-centered care, this community felt that some of their needs were not addressed at all."  Padela says there are appropriate ways to ask these questions:  "Is there something I can do to make you feel more comfortable? Are there values you would like me to know about so I can provide better care for you?" 

People in the study said having same-sex doctors and nurses, halal food and a neutral prayer space in hospitals were the three most important things to them.

- Nishant Sekaran, Michigan Radio Newsroom