Health inequities; Immigrant Health; Islam; Minority Health; Religion


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health Services Research | Public Health


Background: While religious beliefs and values influence health behaviors, conventional health disparities research rarely examines health outcomes by religious affiliation particularly within multi-ethnic minority communities.

Methods: Using a systematic strategy we searched the Medline literature to identify empiric studies that report on health disparities between American Muslims and non-Muslim groups residing in America. In addition to use religious affiliation descriptors for Muslim groups we utilized geographic and ethnicity terms such as “South Asian” or “Pakistani” as proxy terms to help uncover studies of American Muslims.

Results: 171 empirical studies were captured. South Asians and Arabs were the most commonly studied groups, and mental health was the most common studied health condition. The overwhelming majority of studies did not assess connections between the Islamic faith and health outcomes.

Conclusion: Healthcare disparities among American Muslims remain under-investigated. The few empirical studies of American Muslim groups, or of ethnic groups with large numbers of Muslims, rarely examine relationships between Islam-related factors and health outcomes and thereby miss an opportunity to understand the relationships between religion and health disparities.