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Muslim Women's Narratives About Bodily Change and Care During Critical Illness: A Qualitative Study


  • Ruqayya Zeilani PhD,

    1. Alpha, Assistant Professor, The University of Jordan, Faculty of Nursing, Amman, Jordan
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  • Jane E. Seymour PhD

    1. Head of The Sue Ryder Care Centre for Palliative and End of Life Studies, Queen's Medical Centre/School of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy, University of Nottingham, UK
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Dr. Ruqayya Zeilani, The University of Jordan, Faculty of Nursing, Amman, Sweileh, P.O Box 11942, Jordan. E-mail:


Purpose: To explore experiences of Jordanian Muslim women in relation to bodily change during critical illness.

Design: A longitudinal narrative approach was used. A purposive sample of 16 Jordanian women who had spent a minimum of 48 hr in intensive care participated in one to three interviews over a 6-month period.

Findings: Three main categories emerged from the analysis: the dependent body reflects changes in the women's bodily strength and performance, as they moved from being care providers into those in need of care; this was associated with experiences of a sense of paralysis, shame, and burden. The social body reflects the essential contribution that family help or nurses’ support (as a proxy for family) made to women's adjustment to bodily change and their ability to make sense of their illness. The cultural body reflects the effect of cultural norms and Islamic beliefs on the women's interpretation of their experiences and relates to the women's understandings of bodily modesty.

Conclusions: This study illustrates, by in-depth focus on Muslim women's narratives, the complex interrelationship between religious beliefs, cultural norms, and the experiences and meanings of bodily changes during critical illness.

Clinical Relevance: This article provides insights into vital aspects of Muslim women's needs and preferences for nursing care. It highlights the importance of including an assessment of culture and spiritual aspects when nursing critically ill patients.