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Allied Muslim Healthcare Professional Perspectives on Death by Neurologic Criteria



We sought to evaluate how Muslim allied healthcare professionals view death by neurologic criteria (DNC).


We recruited participants from two listservs of Muslim American health professionals to complete an online survey questionnaire. Survey items probed views on DNC and captured professional and religious characteristics. Comparative statistical analyses were performed after dichotomizing the sample based on religiosity, and Chi-squared, Fisher’s exact tests, likelihood ratios and the Kruskal–Wallis test were used to assess differences between the two cohorts.


There were 49 respondents (54%) in the less religious cohort and 42 (46%) in the more religious cohort. The majority of respondents (84%) believed that if the American Academy of Neurology guidelines are followed and a person is declared brain dead, they are truly dead; there was no difference on this view based on religiosity. Less than a quarter of respondents believed that outside of organ donation, mechanical ventilation, hydration, nutrition or medications should be continued after DNC; again, there was no difference based on religiosity of the sample. Importantly, half of all respondents believed families should be able to choose whether an evaluation for DNC is performed (40% of the less religious cohort and 60% of the more religious cohort, p = 0.09) and whether organ support is discontinued after DNC (49% of both cohorts, p = 1).


Although the majority of allied Muslim healthcare professionals we surveyed believe DNC is death, half believe that families should be able to choose whether an evaluation for DNC is performed and whether organ support should be discontinued after DNC. This provides insight that can be helpful when making medical practice policy and addressing legal controversies surrounding DNC.

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Data Availability

Ariane Lewis takes responsibility for the data and accuracy of data analysis.


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The authors would like to thank all the healthcare professionals who completed this survey, and acknowledge the assistance of the American Muslim Health Professionals and Chicago Muslim Medical Association for allowing this survey to be fielded on their platforms.

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AL was responsible for conception and design, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting the manuscript, statistical analysis, and final approval of the manuscript. EK was responsible for design, critical revision of the manuscript, and final approval of the manuscript. AP was responsible for design, distribution, critical revision of the manuscript, and final approval of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ariane Lewis.

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This study was exempt from IRB review at both NYU Langone Medical Center and the University of Chicago’s Biological Sciences Division.

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Lewis, A., Kitamura, E. & Padela, A.I. Allied Muslim Healthcare Professional Perspectives on Death by Neurologic Criteria. Neurocrit Care 33, 347–357 (2020).

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  • Brain death
  • End-of-life
  • Death
  • Islam
  • Religion
  • Law