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Cross-Cultural Obstetric and Gynecologic Care of Muslim Patients

Shahawy, Sarrah BA; Deshpande, Neha A. MD; Nour, Nawal M. MD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001112
Contents: Current Commentary

With the growing number of Muslim patients in the United States, there is a greater need for obstetrician–gynecologists (ob-gyns) to understand the health care needs and values of this population to optimize patient rapport, provide high-quality reproductive care, and minimize health care disparities. The few studies that have explored Muslim women's health needs in the United States show that among the barriers Muslim women face in accessing health care services is the failure of health care providers to understand and accommodate their beliefs and customs. This article outlines health care practices and cultural competency tools relevant to modern obstetric and gynecologic care of Muslim patients, incorporating emerging data. There is an exploration of the diversity of opinion, practice, and cultural traditions among Muslims, which can be challenging for the ob-gyn who seeks to provide culturally competent care while attempting to avoid relying on cultural or religious stereotypes. This commentary also focuses on issues that might arise in the obstetric and gynecologic care of Muslim women, including the patient–physician relationship, modesty and interactions with male health care providers, sexual health, contraception, abortion, infertility, and intrapartum and postpartum care. Understanding the health care needs and values of Muslims in the United States may give physicians the tools necessary to better deliver high-quality care to this minority population.

Understanding the health care needs and values of Muslim patients may give obstetrician–gynecologists the tools to improve patient rapport and provide better reproductive care.

Harvard Medical School and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Corresponding author: Nawal M. Nour, MD, MPH, Director of Ambulatory Obstetrics, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Brigham & Women's Hospital, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115; e-mail:

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

The authors thank Abbas Rattani, MBE, for his comments on the Islamic medical ethics discussed in this article.

© 2015 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.