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Caring for Muslim Patients.
  1. M BURDEN, Senior Diabetes Specialist Nurse
  1. Leicester General Hospital, Leicester, UK

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    Caring for Muslim Patients. Edited by Aziz Sheikh and Abdul Rashid Gatrad. (Pp 140; £17.95.) Radcliffe Medical Press, 2000. ISBN1-85775-372-0.***

    Caring for Muslim Patients is written by different authors and covers demographic and socioeconomic data, background on beliefs, customs and practices, and how this affects health, disease, and death within different family structures. Useful appendices steer readers to the world wide web for information and Muslim organisations.

    This book contains a wealth of information about Islam, with examples from the Qur'an and case studies for illustration. There is little made of individual interpretation of religious writings and how this affects behaviour. One author states that use of donor sperm and eggs is categorically prohibited by Islam but this is likely to be interpreted differently by someone who needs this service from someone who does not.

    In my own field of diabetes there is information on the Hajj so appropriate advice can be given, information about Ramadan fasting, with suggestions about consultation before Ramadan to make changes in medication. Many suggestions made are standard practice in our diabetes unit. There is, however, no mention of educational materials to support patients and health professionals. Perhaps of necessity, generalisations are used but we prefer to individualise advice and ask people what they intend to do and negotiate “safety rules”. An example: inquire if prepared to break their fast if hypoglycaemic (thereby exempt from fasting because acutely ill). Pressure to conform to the fast is not mentioned—my patients say it is difficult not to fast if everyone else is, and even more difficult to fast alone if deferred. There is no encouragement to health professionals to talk to and learn from their Muslin patients. I have learnt most from this method and it is an effective way of ensuring an equitable and culturally sensitive service.

    In summary, a useful resource for all health services caring for Muslim people.