Muslim doctors and decision making in palliative care: a discourse analysis

George Muishout*, Anne de la Croix, Gerard Wiegers, Hanneke W.M. van Laarhoven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Muslim care providers working in a Western context have to deal with Western norms and regulations about palliative decision-making. It is known that some of them struggle with aspects of palliative care, but the way in which they argue and act when working in a Western context has not previously been studied. Therefore, this study examines the ways in which Muslim doctors frame their attitudes and practices regarding palliative decision-making. Our aim was to explore these factors through in-depth interviews, which were then analysed by means of Discourse Analysis, based on Willig’s six-stage approach. For triangulation purposes, a word frequency analysis data was performed. The subjects included in the study were ten Muslim doctors with recent professional experience in palliative care in a Western setting. The analysis resulted in the identification of six discourses: the avoidance of suffering as standard medical care, mutual acceptance, paternalistic discourse, the acceptance (or non-acceptance) of dying, suffering as a religious concept, and predestination. Their interrelated dynamics demonstrated the dominance of the avoidance of suffering discourse as the standard attitude. Our sample indicates that it is the prevention of suffering as a standardised therapeutic goal, rather than as a religiously motivated course of action, guides Muslim doctors’ attitudes and action orientation towards palliative decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

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