By the year 2040, Muslims are projected to become the second largest religious group in the U.S. (Pew Research Center, 2018). Currently, the Muslim population faces health inequities, part of which stem from discrimination and a lack of religious accommodation in clinics.
Given the growth rate of the Muslim population, it is inevitable that the proportion of Muslim patients requiring physical therapy will similarly grow. Physical therapists and physical therapist assistants must therefore equip themselves with information that will help them to best address the needs of this population.
If health care practitioners fail to understand the sociocultural influences of a patient's condition, they may fail to successfully treat that patient. According to three published studies, Ethnicity & Disease: "Provider Factors Affecting Adherence: Cultural Competency and Sensitivity" (2009); Health Affairs: "Cultural Competence and Health Care Disparities: Key Perspectives and Trends" (2005); and Medical Care: "Physician Communication and Patient Adherence to Treatment: A Meta-Analysis" (2009), when patients perceive poor communication and a lack of congruency between their goals, values, and experiences, and those of their health care providers, patients may be more likely to delay care, be nonadherent, and distrust the health care system.
Today, Muslims in the U.S. may feel unwelcome in clinics that are not culturally competent in addressing their needs in the context of religion, as reported in a 2012 study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine: "Religious Values and Healthcare Accommodations: Voices From the American Muslim Community."
Patients should not have to educate health care providers who may not be aware of their faith requirements, but clinicians should ask the patient for guidance when needed. This way it creates an opportunity to ensure that their needs are met.
It's important for PTs and PTAs to educate themselves about the needs of their patients who identify as Muslim to ensure that patient-centered care remains our profession's priority.