Nursing success depends on the ability to put the patient in a state of rest and comfort as much as it is about administering the prescriptions of the doctor. To secure the rest of the patient, nurses need to understand their needs and show respect to their beliefs and values. This requires courteous and open communication with the patient and adopting a patient-centric orientation. Along with other factors, the religious background of the patient makes a lot of difference to their values and expectations. Religious doctrines and practices may differ across religions and denominations such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists and Scientologists and may impose restrictions on certain kinds of interaction between nurse and patient or on certain forms of treatment. Moreover, people with a different religious background are not usually aware of such differences. Therefore, it is necessary for nurses to acquaint themselves with such norms and to communicate with the patient to learn about their specific needs.
Jehovah's Witness and Nursing Practice
Jehovah's Witnesses belong to a Christian denomination of the same name. An organization called Watchtower serves an important community relations function by offering information and guidelines about the beliefs and practices of Jehovah's Witnesses members to the general public through its website. Jehovah's Witnesses believe in their own interpretation of the New and Old Testaments which they believe to be the true word of God (Kitney, Kanani, & De Souza, 2012). They do not believe in the concept of the Trinity of God and in the idea that the soul is mortal. According to their strong belief in the Scripture, they also believe that hellfire does not exist as believed by most other Christians. They believe strongly in the end of the current state of the world as a result of the Armageddon and the creation of the Kingdom of God on earth. They use the term Jehovah to refer to the Creator instead of titles such as God or Lord. They have strong relationships within the community and value it highly.
The beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses that have implications for nursing practice are that they do not accept transfusions of either blood or any blood components, i.e. red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. According to their beliefs, blood contains life and hence it is sinful to try to sustain life through transfusions of blood (Effa-Heap, 2009). Storing and donating blood is also prohibited (Knox, 2011). However, they are willing to accept substitute treatments for blood transfusions such as pharmaceutical alternatives and even blood fractions such as albumin and hemophiliac. This might create life or death situation in cases of heart surgery, for example (El Azab et al., 2010). If they do take in blood transfusions, they are shunned by their community, even if the transfusion was necessary to prevent death.
The implications for nursing for Jehovah's Witnesses patients are that nurses should respect the patients' decision to refuse blood transfusions (Banja, 2009). When they are considered competent, nurses should ask them for their consent. In other cases, they should accept the blood card or advanced directive. At all times, they should demonstrate supportive behavior and ensure that the patients are fully aware of the consequences of their decisions without putting undue pressure on them.
Islam and Nursing Practice
Islam is the second largest religion in the world and its followers are called Muslims. They main principles of Islam are the belief in monotheism, i.e. The existence of one god named Allah, the prophet hood of Muhammad as the final messenger and the Quran as the revelation of Allah. Islam is a universal religion; therefore it is common to see ethnic and cultural diversity among Muslims. Most Muslims have Arab, African or South Asian ethnicities. Islam places certain obligations on Muslims. They are expected to pray five times a day, which consists of a series of standing, sitting and bowing positions while reciting holy verses. During the lunar month of Ramadan, all adult Muslims are expected to fast from dawn to dusk which includes abstinence from food, drink and sexual relations. However, pregnant, lactating or menstruating women, and sick and travelling people are exempted while they are in that state.
Muslims hold nursing of great value. Rufaidah bint Saad was the first Muslim nurse (Mebrouk, 2008). Muslims believe that saving human life is a noble cause. Therefore, they do not refuse blood transfusions or organ donations provided that it can be reasonably believed that such an action would save the life of the person. Muslims are also forbidden from consuming alcohol, pork and any products or medication made from them, unless an alternative is not available (Charles & Daroszewski, 2012). It is important for nurses to communicate to Muslim patients the contents and composition of any medication or treatment that is being administered. Nurses should also take certain things into view when handling Muslim patients. Islam forbids touching the patient unless required for a procedure (Rafii, Hajinezhad, & Haghani, 2008). Therefore, it is preferable to have a nurse of the same gender handle the patient.
Islam also requires Muslims to wear clothing that is modest and does not reveal the shape of the body. Therefore, appropriate clothing should be provided. Muslim women also cover their head with a scarf, hijab or a chador (common among South Asian women) as a sign of modesty. Nurses should seek permission before removing the head covering or uncovering any part of the body for treatment (Charles & Daroszewski, 2012). Muslims are allowed to pray even in a sitting or lying position. This should be facilitated and patients should not be interrupted during prayers. Islam emphasizes on demonstrating patience and performing mediation and prayer while coping with an illness. Therefore, recitation of the Quran by the patient or an attendant should be facilitated.
Seventh Day Adventists and Nursing Practice
Seventh Day Adventists represent a Protestant Christian denomination that was established in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The Seventh Day Adventists share many of the beliefs of other Protestants. In particular, they strongly believe in the concept of the Trinity of God. They also highly regard the Holy Scripture and their interpretations of it. They also believe in the second coming of Christ close to the end of the times (Taylor & Carr, 2009).
Seventh Day Adventists pay special emphasis to the idea that the world was created in six days and that the seventh day is a day for rest. Traditionally, this has been Saturday or the Sabbath (seventh day) when Seventh Day Adventists usually take a day of worship, family time and rest from work (Fayard et al., 2007). This can become an issue in nursing when a Seventh Day Adventist nurse may want to take a day off on Saturday when the work schedule may not have room for this. However, there are many Seventh Day Adventist nurses working in Seventh Day Adventist hospitals as well as in other hospitals where they work on Saturdays. The preference for a day of rest on Saturday and organ donation varies from person to person (Hartman, 2011) as well as by race and socialization (Cort & Cort, 2008). However, because of their greater value for a period of rest in daily life, Seventh Day Adventist nurses are likely to be sensitive to the stresses and weariness experienced by their patients and may be more demonstrative in ensuring that their patients receive the necessary rest and relaxation in addition to medication. Seventh Day Adventist nurses are also likely to assist their patient spiritually because of the importance given to prayer and alternative therapies in their tradition.
Most Seventh Day Adventists are vegetarians and abstain from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Some of them may even avoid beverages that contain caffeine as caffeine is also believed to act as a stimulant. Their avoidance of meat from their own diet may make it difficult for them to recommend a meat-based diet for their patients. Seventh Day Adventists believe in wholeness as an important value for living a healthy life. Hence, Seventh Day Adventists nurses view their jobs as holding a special place in their lives and that of their patients. They are likely to recommend and administer holistic approaches to patient care that involve medication, diet and family support.
Scientology and Nursing Practice
Scientologists believe in the natural regenerative power of the body and the positive effects of the environment on the health and wellness of individuals. One of the fundamental principles is the freedom of the individual (McCall, 2007). The most significant challenge that nurses can face when helping a Scientologist patient is in the case of a psychiatric illness. The Church of Scientology strictly forbids its members to undergo any treatment for psychiatric issues or to opt for any psychotherapy. This is particularly challenging when a Scientologist patient has to be admitted to a psychiatric ward or a similar asylum. Staying over at an institution for the…