Muslims: Taking a Clinical History
When taking a clinical history, bear in mind the potential problems of language. Even if a healthcare worker and patient share a common language, medical terms can cause confusion and difficulty. Keep the language simple. Most hospitals and trusts have access now to interpretation services, and it is advised that these are used rather than allowing members of the family (especially children) to act as an interpreter.
Muslims – especially the older generation and women – will generally be shy and reserved when talking about matters related to sex and sexual health. They might be more at ease in the presence of a chaperone; this often applies especially to young unmarried women. However, bear in mind the additional problems the presence of a chaperone may present in some cases. Will the chaperone help the patient to be confident enough to open up, or will they hinder the medical process? Be patient and sympathetic and, above all, listen to your patient.
Many Muslims may have been using traditional and herbal remedies for some time before visiting a medical team. Such patients may be reluctant to admit this in case it disqualifies them from being treated by the NHS.
The role of a Muslim man as the protector of his wife and children means that it is important to include him in discussions about healthcare for his family. Women from traditional backgrounds or of the older generation may refuse treatment unless their husband has been consulted and agrees.
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