Preferences and experiences of Muslim patients and their families in Muslim-majority countries for end-of-life care: a systematic review and thematic analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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  • Hospital Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah
  • King's College London


Background. Care for people with progressive illness should be person centered and account for their cultural values and spiritual beliefs. There are an estimated 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide, largely living in low-income and middle-incomecountries.Aims. This study aimed to identify, appraise, and integrate the evidence for the experiences and preferences of Muslim patients and/or families for end-of-life care in Muslim-majority countries.Design. Systematic review.Data sources. PsychINFO, MEDLINE, Embase, Global Health, CINAHL, Cochrane Library and Registry of Clinical Trials, PubMed, Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts (ASSIA), Social Services Abstracts, Sociological Abstracts, Social Policy& Practice, and Scopus were searched until December 2018. Handsearching was performed, and gray literature was included. Qualitative studies analyzed using thematic analysis and quantitative component provided triangulation.Results. The initial search yielded n = 5098 articles, of which n = 30 met the inclusion criteria. A total of 5342 participants (4345 patients; 81.3%) were included; 97.6% had advanced cancer. Most (n = 22) studies were quantitative. Three themes and subthemes from qualitative studies were identified using thematic analysis: selflessness (burden to others and caregiver responsibilities), ambivalence (hope and hopelessness), and strong beliefs in Islam (beliefs in death and afterlife and closeness to Allah). Qualitative studies reported triangulation; demonstrating conflicts in diagnosis disclosure and total pain burden experienced by both patients and families.Conclusion. Despite the scarce evidence of relatively low quality, the analysis revealed core themes. To achieve palliative care for all in line with the total pain model, beliefs must be identified and understood in relation to decision-makingprocesses and practices.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4
Pages (from-to)1223
Number of pages1238
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2020


  • End-of-life care, palliative care, Muslim, Islam, systematic review