Netherlands: Muslims refusing pain management treatment

Netherlands: Muslims refusing pain management treatment

The Dutch themselves aren't big on pain management either.


Palliative care for Muslims is often hindered by cultural barriers and prejudices.  Muslims are often afraid of pain management since it makes one drowsy, and in the Koran it says one must be alert before Allah.

A Muslim soon to be facing death who can say his confession while alert, is a lucky man.  Since one must appear alert before Allah and make the transition to the new life fully conscious, the Koran proscribes.  Many Muslims therefore prefer to avoid severe pain management which make one drowsy. Prof. Wouter Zuurmond of the VU Medical Center saw this in his work as a doctor at the Expertise Center for Palliative Care in the Kuria Hospice in Amsterdam, which he manages.  It frustrates him, since he knows pain management doesn't always makes one drowsy.  He says pain management is like a suit which should be fitted to size.

More and more nurses and artists meet Muslims in their owk, who in their last stage of life need support.  Knowledge about religious backgrounds, cultural customs, but also prejudices, seem important, if these care providers want to do their work well.  the VU Medical Center therefore organized on Sunday a symposium about nursing care for Muslims in the palliative phase of an illness.

Besides incorrect ideas about pain treatment, Zuurmond also saw in his pracitce that pain is seen as a punishment by Muslims.  He says that Muslims want to experience pain as purifying. They say: this is my punishment; I must suffer it.  He also identifies fear of the side effects of pain management.

Source: ND (Dutch)

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