Clinical ethics from the Islamic perspective: a qualitative study exploring the views of Jordanian doctors

Ala S. Obeidat, Paul A. Komesaroff

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Like other Arab countries, Jordan must find ways of responding to the rapid processes of change affecting many aspects of social life. This is particularly urgent in healthcare, where social and technical change is often manifested in tensions about ethical decision-making in the clinic. To explore the attitudes, beliefs and concerns relating to ethical decision-making among health professionals in Jordanian hospitals, a qualitative study was conducted involving face-to-face interviews with medical personnel in four hospitals in Amman, the capital of Jordan. Data were analysed thematically in relation to a pre-existing set of ethical categories. Interviews were conducted with thirty-eight doctors covering most medical specialities. Five major themes emerged from the interviews: ethical awareness, ethical issues, the impact of religion on ethical decision-making, practical and theoretical resources for ethical decision-making, and challenges. While uncertainty was expressed about some aspects of Western approaches to ethics, participants strongly supported adoption of a range of Western bioethical principles, including cultural and ethical diversity, along with adherence to Islamic religious norms. A range of serious ethical challenges facing the Jordanian health system were identified, covering social, legal, managerial, and technical issues. Ethical decision-making in Jordan is complex, having to accommodate the needs of patients, the opinions of doctors and their families, the views of religious authorities, managerial considerations, and both local norms and international standards. Health professionals struggle with three sets of tensions that emerge out of the struggle between traditional, community-embedded forms of social organization and the demands generated by globalization and the influence of Western culture: the tensions between tradition and modernity, conservatism and pragmatism, and religion and secularism. Doctors in Jordan prefer approaches to ethical decision-making that realize a balance between the extremes, although the exact nature of where that balance should lie remains uncertain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-348
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Bioethical Inquiry
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Arab
  • Clinical ethics
  • Doctors
  • Ethics
  • Health professionals
  • Islam
  • Jordan

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