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American Muslim Physician Attitudes Toward Organ Donation


Religious beliefs and values impact Muslim patients' attitudes toward a variety of healthcare decisions, including organ donation. Muslim physician attitudes toward organ donation, however, are less well studied. Utilizing a national survey of physician members of the Islamic Medical Association of North America, relationships between religiosity, patterns of bioethics resource utilization, and sociodemographic characteristics with attitudes toward organ donation were assessed. Of 255 respondents, 251 answered the target question, “in your understanding, does Islamic bioethics and law permit organ donation?.” 177 respondents (70%) answered positively, 30 (12%) negatively, and 46 (18%) did not know. Despite the overwhelming majority of respondents believing organ donation to be permitted by Islamic bioethics and law, fewer than one-third (n = 72, 30%) are registered donors. Several sociodemographic features had a positive association with believing organ donation to be permitted: ethnic descent other than that of South Asian, having immigrated to the USA as an adult, and male sex. When using a logistic regression model controlling for these three variables as potential confounders, the best predictor of Muslim physicians believing organ donation to be permissible was utilization of an Imam as a bioethical resource (odds ratio 5.9, p = 0.02). Religiosity variables were not found to be associated with views on the Islamic permissibility of organ donation. While Muslim American physicians appear to believe there is religious support for organ donation, only a minority sign up to be donors. Greater study is needed to understand how physicians' attitudes regarding donation impact discussions between patients and physicians regarding the possibility of donating and of receiving a transplant.

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This project was carried out by the Initiative on Islam and Medicine at the University of Chicago. Dr. Padela's time-effort and project funding was provided by the John Templeton Foundation through the University of Chicago's Program on Medicine and Religion Faculty Scholars Program. We thank the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) for collaborating on this project and providing access to the membership roster. Notably we recognize Rasheed Ahmed, Akrama Hashmi, Dr. Ayaz Samadani's efforts through IMANA. We also acknowledge the following individuals for their valuable assistance: Zahra Hosseinain and Maha Ahmad for survey administration Farr Curlin for assistance with study conceptualization, grant writing, and instrument development, and survey design, Julie Johnson for data-entry, and Heba Abdel-Latief for the literature review and survey instrument development.


Project funding was provided by the John Templeton Foundation through the University of Chicago's Program on Medicine and Religion Faculty Scholars Program. AIP's time-effort was partially supported by the John Templeton Foundation (Grant #20877), and by the Health Resources and Services Administration (Grant #R39OT31104). The funder had no role in the study design; data collection, analysis, or interpretation; writing of the report; or the decision to submit the article for publication.

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Correspondence to Mustafa Ahmed.

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The authors declared no potential conflict of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Ahmed, M., Kubilis, P. & Padela, A. American Muslim Physician Attitudes Toward Organ Donation. J Relig Health 57, 1717–1730 (2018).

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  • Islamic bioethics
  • Organ transplantation
  • Religiosity
  • Islamic law