Courses, Curricula, and Tools


Case Studies: Engaging Religious Diversity in Health Fields

Using Case Studies

Using Case Studies

Interfaith America partnered with health fields faculty, medical practitioners, and bio-ethics students to create this set of case studies. Each case describes a real-life scenario from a health care setting in which religious identity plays a significant role. By design, these cases do not have simple answers or obvious resolutions. They are intended to spark thought and discussion about the role of religious identity, tradition and belief in the lives and professions of patients and practitioners. We have designed these cases with undergraduate and graduate health field classes in mind but welcome their usage in other settings. They can be integrated into courses that are already being taught and tailored for your specific curricular needs. We have included optional discussion questions and additional resources for background learning.

Case Studies

23 modules
  • Buddhist Patient and Pain Medicine

    A thirty-year-old female presented to the emergency department with intense leg pain after she slipped down a flight of stairs.

  • Buddhist Provider and Life Support

    A patient in her forties presented to the emergency department with a very severe cough and was admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of lung cancer.

  • Christian Refusal of Antidepressants

    The patient shared that he had been experiencing low levels of energy and had been spending greater amounts of time in bed than usual.

  • Greek Orthodox Christian Patient and the use of Assisted Reproductive Technology

    A Greek Orthodox couple has been trying to get pregnant for the past five years. They finally sought the consult of a fertility doctor who determined that the issue is the husband’s low sperm count and poor motility.

  • Hindu Ayurveda Cleansing in Hospital Setting

    A Hindu male in his early 40’s presented to a small, local hospital experiencing some gastrointestinal symptoms requiring further diagnosis.

  • Hmong Patient and Integrative Medicine

    A sixty-five-year-old Hmong male was admitted to a community hospital with pneumonia.

  • Jehovah’s Witness and Blood Transfusion

    An eighteen-year-old female presented to the emergency room with ruptured ovarian cysts and hemorrhaging.

  • Jehovah’s Witness and Pregnancy

    A twenty-six-year-old female was admitted for removal of a urethral mass at thirty-four weeks pregnant.

  • Jewish Patient and High Holidays

    A seventy-year-old Orthodox Jewish female presented to the emergency room during the afternoon preceding Yom Kippur.

  • Jewish Woman has a Stillbirth at 28 Weeks in the Hospital

    A 34-year-old Jewish woman who is twenty-eight weeks pregnant arrived at the hospital with bleeding and cramps. An ultrasound showed no heartbeat and confirmed that fetus had died in utero.

  • Muslim Child and Diabetes Treatment

    A four-year-old male was diagnosed on admission to a local hospital with type-1 diabetes.

  • Native American End of Life Rituals

    A patient in his late 60’s with end-stage metastatic prostate cancer was admitted to the hospital with uncontrolled pain.

  • Non-Denominational Christian Refusal of Care for Children

    A four-year-old girl is brought into the emergency room with a comminuted fracture of the tibia.

  • Radiation Tattoos

    A fifty-seven-year-old Hareidi (ultra-Orthodox) Jewish woman was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctors recommended a bilateral mastectomy followed by radiation.

  • Religious Diversity Among Nursing Staff

    A newly graduated nurse reported for her first shift at a community hospital shortly before the winter holidays.

  • Roman Catholic Doctor and Physician Assisted Death

    A 40-year-old man was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s Disease. He tried all the recommended medications that have been shown to ease symptoms, but nothing has helped.

  • Roman Catholic Organ Donation and End of Life Care

    A 25-year-old male was admitted to the intensive care unit with a serious head injury resulting from a high-speed motor vehicle collision.

  • Roman Catholic Patient and Religious Ritual Request

    An elderly patient was admitted to the hospital for a cardiac valve replacement.  The patient could not have anything to eat or drink for eight hours prior to surgery due to precautions around aspiration.

  • Shoe Removal in a Chinese Buddhist Home

    A home health care nurse in the US pays a visit to an elderly Chinese patient. The patient asks her to remove her shoes upon entering the house

  • Seventh Day Adventist and Workplace Accommodations

    Several nurses complained to the unit nurse manager about a co-worker who had every Saturday off for religious purposes.

  • Sikh Patient and Modesty Concerns

    An 18-year-old male presented to the emergency room with a laceration near his groin. During intake, the patient shared with his male nurse that he was a Sikh.  

  • Tension between Western and Eastern Medical Treatment

    A Chinese family is on vacation in the United States. During their trip, one of the family members gets very ill and decides to visit a doctor.

  • Tibetan Sky Burial and Public Health Concerns

    A doctor works in a hospital close to Tibet. Recently a 50-year-old Tibetan Buddhist was in the ICU with symptoms like that of a new virus making global headlines.