How Can Religious Observations Affect Your Patients?


Ramadan is a religious observance of Muslims worldwide. It is a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Koran to the prophet Muhammad. The annual observance is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

Ramadan and Fasting

During this time, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, avoiding foods, liquids, smoking and sex. The fasting regimen begins at puberty. There are exemptions to the fasting, including severe illness and pregnancy. Even so, many Muslims with medical conditions insist on fasting to fulfill their spiritual needs.

The fasting becomes especially problematic for Muslims who are diabetic. Pharmacists many times have Muslim patients who fast, and these patients need to know the appropriate way to handle the situation and receive counseling.

The Role of Pharmacists

University researchers have interviewed pharmacists about their views on Ramadan and diabetes and the services that are available to such patients with Type 2 diabetes. Their investigation showed pharmacists need to be more aware of such religious observances and their effect on patients’ health, especially those with Type 2 diabetes.

People who have Type 2 diabetes, and other chronic conditions, should not fast during Ramadan. However, surveys have shown about 50 million such people do engage in fasting.

The researchers talked to 21 pharmacists practicing in areas with a great deal of ethnic diversity about dealing with medication issues related to religious observances. The pharmacists were willing to counsel Muslim patients during Ramadan, but usually waited until a patient approached them before they provided assistance.

Some pharmacists were reluctant to counsel because they said they lacked the resources needed to inform patients about what to do during fasting. Others said they were too pressed for time to offer counseling. Other reasons cited for avoiding proactive counseling included patients’ age, cultural beliefs, language barriers and privacy considerations.

Pharmacists are urged to learn more about the effects of religious practices on diabetes and assist patients in this situation. In 2017, Ramadan begins on May 27th and continues until June 25th.

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