Ethical Challenges When Caring for Orthodox Jewish Patients at the End of Life

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Abstract

Dying is a deeply personal process. The personal values, goals, and experiences of a lifetime come to the forefront during the end of life and may be shaped to some degree by the religious and cultural identity of the patient and family. When patients are part of a faith-based, religious, or cultural minority group, it can be particularly challenging for the clinical care team to gain the understanding and insights needed to reconcile disparities between majority and minority values. This article uses a case study to illustrate and review ethical issues, which frequently occur and can be anticipated in the end-of-life care of patients who identify themselves as Orthodox Jews. Although the specifics are unique to this faith-based minority group, the process of identifying, educating, and developing a means to incorporate faith-based and cultural minority beliefs and values in the provision of care can be applied to other such minority groups that the clinical team may encounter in their work.

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