How Islam Influences End-of-Life Care: Education for Palliative Care Clinicians

Madeline Leong, Sage Olnick, Tahara Akmal, Amanda Copenhaver, Rab Razzak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context According to the Joint Commission, cultural competency is a core skill required for end-of-life care. Religious and cultural beliefs predominantly influence patients' lives, especially during the dying process. Therefore, palliative care clinicians should have at least a basic understanding of major world religions. Islam is a major world religion with 1.7 billion followers. At our institution, a needs assessment showed a lack of knowledge with Islamic teachings regarding end-of-life care. Objectives To improve knowledge of clinically relevant Islamic teachings regarding end-of-life care. Methods After consultation with a Muslim chaplain, we identified key topics and created a 10-question pretest. The pretest was administered, followed by a one-hour educational intervention with a Muslim chaplain. Next, a post-test (identical to the pretest) was administered. Results Eleven palliative care clinicians participated in this study. The average score on the pretest was 6.0 ± 1.2 (mean + SD) (maximum 10). After the educational intervention, the average score improved to 9.6 ± 0.7 (95% CI 2.7–4.4; P < 0.001). Qualitative feedback was positive as participants reported a better understanding of how Islam influences patients' end-of-life decisions. Conclusion In this pilot study, a one-hour educational intervention improved knowledge of Islamic teachings regarding end-of-life care. We present a framework for this intervention, which can be easily replicated. We also provide key teaching points on Islam and end-of-life care. Additional research is necessary to determine the clinical effects of this intervention over time and in practice. In the future, we plan to expand the educational material to include other world religions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)771-774.e3
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Islam
  • Muslim
  • Palliative care
  • end of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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