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  • Introduction
  • 1. Advance Care Planning
  • 2. Communicating Bad News
  • 3. Whole Patient Assessment
  • 4. Pain Management
  • 5. Assisted Suicide Debate
  • 6. Anxiety, Delirium
  • 7. Goals of Care
  • 8. Sudden Illness
  • 9. Medical Futility
  • 10. Common Symptoms
  • 11. Withholding Treatment
  • 12. Last Hours of Living
  • 13. Cultural Issues
  • 14. Religion, Spirituality
  • 15. Legal Issues
  • 16. Social and Psychological
  • More About:

  • Hospice Care
  • Clergy and Faith Communities
  • Additional Links
    Site Index
    Back to Module 14: Table of Contents
    Part V: World Religions

    Considering World Religions in End of Life Care

    Considering World Religions in End of Life Care

    • The following section presents three case studies to illustrate end of life care considerations from the perspective of three world religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism
    • Our purpose here is to provide a framework for thinking about how religious traditions may influence the needs of a person at the end of life, and the needs of that person’s family as they grieve and survive
    • We encourage you to use these cases as a starting point for thinking and learning about the role of religious beliefs and traditions in end of life care
    • How religious traditions develop and are embodied in the daily lives of peoples is richly complex
      • Religion interacts with other dimensions of culture such as economic systems and local customs

      • Religious traditions are dynamic, never static

        • They evolve over time to meet the needs of adherents
        • They adapt to the conditions of culture

      • Wide variations exist in beliefs and practices, even during the same time period or within a cultural subgroup


    • Studying the scriptures, creation myths, dogma, laws, or symbol systems in isolation from the religion as it is practiced by particular members yields a limited, if not skewed, understanding
      • Making generalizations on the basis of a person’s religious affiliation or membership is of limited usefulness

      • Knowledge of the basic beliefs and practices of the world’s major religions will help providers of palliative care only as a point of entry

      • Therefore, consider the information that follows on the major world religions as only one tool among others needed to adequately and sensitively assess patient and family religious/spiritual framework and needs

      • As with our efforts to respect culture difference more generally, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing if it forecloses an active, sensitive inquiry into a person’s own set of beliefs and practices


    Hinduism Basic Facts

    • There are an estimated 764 million followers of Hinduism around the world with more than 900,000 residing in the United States. More

    Buddhism Basic Facts

    • Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, who lived in India in the 6th century BCE
      • Legend has it that the sight of an ill person, an old man, and a dead body led this former Hindu prince on a spiritual search to explain the cause of suffering and find a means to its cessation

      • As Buddhism spread from India to China, Japan, Tibet, and other Asian countries wide variances in belief and rituals developed
    • More than 250 million people worldwide are Buddhists. More

    Judaism Basic Facts

    • Jewish views on and practices regarding death differ widely
      • In addition to three main strands of Judaism – Orthodox, Conservative, and Reformed – regional differences contribute to varied beliefs and practices

      • Additionally, Judaism has always permitted a wide latitude for differences of opinion

      • Below are listed some “traditional” beliefs and practices

        • May or not may not be relevant to the patient/family in your care
        • Be sure to ask which, if any of these, are meaningful to them. More