Cultural competence in health care: exploring the experiences of Muslim women within the Ontario healthcare system.
This exploratory study examines the influences of cultural and religious practices of Muslim women within health care settings. Twelve Muslim women, ranging between the ages of 19 to 57, were interviewed. They all participated in a 30 to 60 minute, semistructured interview, and discussed their personal interactions with health care providers and shared their experiences receiving health care. The research question highlights the role of cultural and religious traditions and practices for Muslim women and how that affects the patient-provider relationship. Knowledge of the difficulties these women face is often unrecognized by providers. These include communication and language barriers, modesty issues, provider gender, translator services and poor provider services. Other significant themes in the study also include characteristics of a ‘good’ provider, main challenges for Muslim women, positive versus negative health care experiences, and key suggestions from participants to improve health services for Muslim patients. Data was analyzed using Denzin’s qualitative framework interpretive interactionism. Analysis suggests that Muslim women patients encounter a wide range of difficulties when obtaining heath care services. The women shared some personal stories, where providers lacked the ability to care for them in accordance to their cultural and religious obligations. This reinforces the need for better cultural and religious accommodations for this “unique” population. Cultural competent strategies and protocols must be developed to improve health experiences. However, health care providers must first recognize the gap in the Muslim woman patient-provider relationship in order to change health care processes and experiences for this community.