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Diversity of Religions in Healthcare

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Healthcare providers should acknowledge diversity of religion during treatment of patients to avoid outcomes that may negatively affect the patient, his or her family, and the healthcare team. Communication and mutual understanding in the health care environment ensures that patients receive appropriate treatment without undergoing any form of segregation or harm. An analysis of the philosophies for providing healthcare to Buddhists, Sikhs, Baha’is and Christians will provide healthcare professionals with an overview of the expected conduct in a healthcare environment comprising of patients from different religious backgrounds.

Buddhists emphasize the importance of awareness. In this regard, they may demand periods of peace and quietness for meditation, which may interfere with routine care. Buddhism places emphasis on gender sensitivity and thus introduces challenges concerning the administration of treatment by practitioners of the opposite sex. Buddhists are vegetarians since their religious doctrine prohibits the consumption of animal products or by-products, which introduces challenges concerning dietary preferences, and medications derived from animal products.

Buddhist concern on awareness may introduce conflicts regarding the use of analgesics in treatment since the drugs alter one’s concentration. In this regard, the use of pain-relieving medication, even near the time of death, may provoke protest from the patient or his family members since meditation is important in preparing for death (Ashcroft, 2007). Buddhism encourages prayerfulness and thus patients, family members and friends may engage in numerous prayer sessions within the hospital. Normally, these sessions entail burning of incense and candles. If a Buddhist patient dies, Buddhism recommends a particular approach in handling the patient’s body since one’s spirit does not leave the body immediately after death. In this regard, healthcare providers should avoid acts that may disturb the body.

Sikhs underline significance of the modesty and respect for privacy. In this regard, a Sikh patient expects healthcare providers to announce their arrival during routine sessions. Similar to Buddhists, Sikhs do not condone any form of interruption during prayer sessions. Sikh beliefs on touching introduce challenges in treatment procedures that involve a lot of touching (Garlington, 2005). Concerns on excessive touching introduce challenges on administration of treatment by healthcare providers of the opposite sex. The amount of clothes for a Sikh patient should adhere to Sikh beliefs regarding privacy. In this regard, a Sikh patient may demand to wear other clothing apart from the hospital gown. Challenges occur especially during medical examination, as a Sikh patient may protest against requests to remove his or her clothes. 

Sikhs pay close attention to the five K’s defined in their religious doctrine. They may insist on keeping objects such as the steel bracelet and sword with them at all times, which may conflict with hospital rules and regulations. Uncut hair, which is one of the five symbols of Sikhism, introduces challenges on healthcare provider’s attempts to keep the hair out of the way during the examination. Sikh patients expect practitioners to pay great attention to the patient’s personal hygiene. In this regard, they may demand frequent bathing and conditioning of their hair. Similar to Buddhists, Sikhs emphasize on prayerfulness and care for the sick. A Sikh patient will often receive visitors who may conduct prayers in the patient’s room. Unlike Buddhism, Sikhism allows the use of pharmacological methods in treatment and thus healthcare providers can administer analgesics to alleviate pain.

Baha’i beliefs acknowledge the role of science in the restoration of health and wellness and thus encourage the use of medical technologies in the provision of healthcare. Baha’i believers are open to consultations on matters relating to their health, and unlike Buddhists, they have no limitations on prescription drugs (Watson, 2005). Baha’i doctrines give believers autonomy in making decisions regarding treatment methods. In this regard, unlike Buddhists and Sikhs, Baha’is preferences on the sex of the attending physician depend on the patient. In addition, the religion does not impose dietary restrictions. Similar to Sikhism, Baha’ism puts great emphasis on religious symbols. A Baha’i patient will prefer to keep objects such as the image of a nine-pointed star and a prayer book close to them.

Similar to Baha’i beliefs, Christian views on healthcare allow patients to determine preferable methods of treatment because unlike Buddhism, Christianity appreciates the role of science in alleviating human suffering. Buddhism, Sikhism, Baha’ism and Christianity emphasize on prayerfulness and care for the sick, and consider prayer sessions as periods that require minimal interruption even due to matters of routine care. Christian patients and their families may have frequent prayer sessions within the hospital premises. In addition, Christians give significance to religious symbols and tend to carry objects such as the Holy Cross and Bible with them. However, Christians have distinct rituals such as baptism and receiving of the Holy Communion administered by clergymen or priests.

When patients consider healthcare providers as being respectful of their opinions, religious beliefs and independence, they develop a positive attitude towards the treatment administered. In fact, they may alter their religious stance to facilitate proper delivery of healthcare. On the other hand, when patients perceive healthcare provides as disrespectful of their opinions and beliefs, they become uncooperative in the treatment process. Healthcare providers whose religious beliefs differ from patients’ should approach the treatment process with modesty. Despite the fact that some religious beliefs challenge hospital rules and regulations and interfere with the process of restoring health and wellness, consultations among concerned parties will create a friendly environment for proving healthcare. Healthcare providers should engage patients’ family members and religious leaders in mitigating conflicts that arise due to differences in religious beliefs. 

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