Doctor: Cultural Respect Important to Patients

April 26, 2007

Author: Cynthia T. Pegram

Source: The News & Advance!news!archive

The hospitalized Muslim patient who's not eating may not be showing a symptom of illness, but fasting as part of the Islamic faith - or is just concerned that he can't be certain the food doesn't contain pork.

Unless physicians appreciate the way culture and ethnicity shape a patient's life, then the doctor may misinterpret the information.

Respect related to cultural belief is important to a patient's health, "how they deal with illness and how they recover," said Dr. Charles Driscoll, director of the Lynchburg Family Medicine Residency.

Driscoll spoke at Wednesday's "Caring With Awareness Conference: Middle Eastern & Moslem Culture," sponsored by Centra Health and the residency.

Islam is a faith that believes in one God, Allah. The holy book is the Koran.

The world has about 1.3 billion Muslims who come from many cultures and many ethnic backgrounds beyond the Middle East, including those in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Asia and Africa, as well as American Muslims.