Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate attitudes in hospital inpatients and physicians towards Ramadan fasting and diabetes in Marseille.
Methodology: This cross-sectional study was conducted during the three months prior to the month of Ramadan. A total of 101 patients (age: 57±17 years) and 101 general practitioners (GPs) were recruited into the study.
Results: The patients had low levels of education (52% illiteracy). Of the 101 patients, 52 continued to fast during Ramadan, and only 65 patients had discussed the matter with their GP. Of these, 36 were told that fasting was forbidden, but more than half (n=19) fasted despite the medical advice. Six patients thus experienced daily hypoglycaemia because they had continued to take their hypoglycaemic agent or insulin analogue at noon. Both inadequate education and religious attitudes were found to endanger patients during the fast: 15 patients skipped the meal scheduled before dawn, five of whom persisted in taking their sulphonylurea. Also, 27% of patients refused, in spite of daytime hypoglycaemia, to ingest anything orally to avoid breaking their fast. Among the GP population, medical knowledge of Ramadan fasting with diabetes was low, leading to medically unjustified negative advice for fasting and a lack of patient education on adjusting treatments. This particular situation weakened the patient-physician relationship.
Conclusion: This study confirms the importance of Ramadan fasting for Muslim patients, and reveals a wide cross-cultural gap between GPs and their patients. Systematic advice on treatment adjustment needs to be given. For this reason, we encourage more sensitive care of these patients and more medical training for physicians.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.