This is “Case Study 9: Faith and Health”, section 7.9 from the book Cultural Intelligence for Leaders (v. 1.0). For details on it (including licensing), click here.

For more information on the source of this book, or why it is available for free, please see the project's home page. You can browse or download additional books there. You may also download a PDF copy of this book (2 MB) or just this chapter (108 KB), suitable for printing or most e-readers, or a .zip file containing this book's HTML files (for use in a web browser offline).

Has this book helped you? Consider passing it on:
Creative Commons supports free culture from music to education. Their licenses helped make this book available to you.
DonorsChoose.org helps people like you help teachers fund their classroom projects, from art supplies to books to calculators.

7.9 Case Study 9: Faith and Health

Abdul Hadi is one of the 3 million Muslims living in Germany today. He has had surgery and is recovering from his operations in a hospital near his home. Anna is his nurse and is increasingly frustrated with his behavior and having to accommodate his needs. His behaviors and needs are as follows:

  • Because of the nature of Abdul Hadi’s surgery, it is difficult for him to take a shower or bathe himself. When preparing for prayer, he needs to cleanse himself. He needs assistance and Anna is there to provide help, but he refuses to have her help. Finding a male nurse to help bathe Abdul Hadi has been a challenge, as all of the male nurses work different shifts and are already assigned to other patients.
  • As a devout Muslim, Abdul Hadi does not eat pork. Medication provided to him must not have any pork products or alcoholic substances; he is only allowed specific medications and treatments containing these products as dictated by Islamic law.
  • Abdul Hadi also has special dietary needs. Because much of the cafeteria food contains pork products, gelatin, or lard, in one form or another, it is hard to find food that fits his needs while ensuring he stays healthy and strong.
  • Abdul Hadi has many relatives that visit him; as a result, the patients that share his room complain about the noise and level of activity.
  • As a Muslim, he prays and needs the space to do this. He needs to have a nurse help him get out of bed. Sometimes he has called Anna to help him, but because she is attending other patients, she does not come in time to assist him.

You are Anna’s supervisor. You want her to be able to work with Abdul Hadi and to provide him with the best care.

  1. Using what you know about cultural intelligence, analyze the situation.
  2. For each of the five behaviors and needs outlined above, find a strategy, or strategies, to resolve the issues.
  3. Determine what your hospital needs to do to ensure patients are addressed with care and compassion.

CI Model in Action

  • Acquire: It is important for the supervisors, including the hospital administrators, to recognize the cultural differences that exist between themselves and people of the Islamic faith. There is a specific belief and value system operating within this hospital. This system dictates how to interact with and treat patients, and as a result, policies are developed to treat and work with patients in a specific way. These ideas come into conflict when there are individuals who do not perceive care in the same way. A useful exercise for the supervisor and hospital administrators would be to identify what they currently know about the Islamic culture and what they would like to learn more about. This can include identification of organizational cultural belief systems and values related to working with patients. When they do this, it helps them to create concrete strategies for improvement.
  • Build: For Anna, the supervisor can help her to assess her self-efficacy and confidence level in working with patients of different cultural and religious backgrounds. She can work with Anna to help her become a more active listener, so as to build a more trusting and respectful relationship with patients. The supervisor can also help Anna by coaching or mentoring her, which entails asking her questions, making suggestions, and exploring alternative care techniques. Doing this provides Anna and the supervisor with the opportunity to break down what is happening in the situation.
  • Contemplate: It would be important for Anna to keep an open mind and suspend judgments about patient’s beliefs and religious practices. She can learn to be a better observer and listener, thus allowing her to pick up cultural nuances that she may not have otherwise noticed. Her ability to manage her emotions, gauge the patient’s emotions, and adapt as needed is really important in the care of patients. Because illnesses can be a large source of physical and emotional stress, Anna’s assistance in helping patients to manage their emotional responses could only benefit her.
  • Do: The supervisor can help Anna to learn to identify behaviors that are inappropriate and are a setback to the patient’s health and well-being. Learning to name the emotions and identify the thought patterns that occur while working with Abdul Hadi can help Anna to release negative emotions and feelings she has toward the patient.