Religion and disparities: considering the influences of Islam on the health of American Muslims

Aasim I Padela, Farr A Curlin
Journal of Religion and Health 2013, 52 (4): 1333-45
Both theory and data suggest that religions shape the way individuals interpret and seek help for their illnesses. Yet, health disparities research has rarely examined the influence of a shared religion on the health of individuals from distinct minority communities. In this paper, we focus on Islam and American Muslims to outline the ways in which a shared religion may impact the health of a racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse minority community. We use Kleinman's "cultural construction of clinical reality" as a theoretical framework to interpret the extant literature on American Muslim health. We then propose a research agenda that would extend current disparities research to include measures of religiosity, particularly among populations that share a minority religious affiliation. The research we propose would provide a fuller understanding of the relationships between religion and health among Muslim Americans and other minority communities and would thereby undergird efforts to reduce unwarranted health disparities.

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