Program on Medicine and Religion

Developing a Religiously-Tailored Mammography Intervention for American Muslims


This project aims to fill critical gaps in knowledge about how Islam influences Cancer screening behaviors and provides a model for how to partner with mosque communities to conduct a culturally-tailored mammography promoting program. It is a collaboration between the Initiative on Islam and Medicine at the University of Chicago and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago with support from the American Cancer Society.

Why American Muslims?

  • There are ~5-7 million Muslims in the US
  • They are ethnically/racially diverse: 20-24% African Americans, 18-26% South Asians, 24-26% Arab
  • Religion impacts their healthcare decisions
    • Provides framework for understanding disease and means for its removal
    • Ethico-legal guidelines inform healthcare choices
    • Religious Identity/Religiosity increases exposure to discrimination

Why Mammography?

  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American women, and screening mammography is a proven method to reduce mortality from this cancer
  • In 2015 while 65.3% of U.S. women above 40 had a mammogram, lower rates were observed among racial and ethnic minorities
  • Muslim women have low rates of mammography
    • Community surveys reveal:
      • 37% of women (n=254) in the Chicago area had not obtained a mammogram in the last 2 years
      • 42% of Arab women (n=365) from Detroit reported not having a mammogram every 1-2 years

What is the Challenge?


Council of Islamic Orgs of Greater Chicago

Muslim Women Resource Center

Arab American Family Services

Compassionate Care Network

Phase 1-Community Surveys

Phase 2-Mosque-based Focus Groups

Phase 3-Key Informant Interviews



Caring for Body & Soul Workshops

​Health-Related Sermons

This project was supported by a Mentored Research Scholar Grant (MRSG-14-032-01-CPPB) from the American Cancer Society, an Institutional Research Grant (no. 58-004) from the American Cancer Society, and a Cancer Center Support Grant (no. P30 CA14599) from the National Cancer Institute. Data warehousing was supported by the REDCap project at the University of Chicago, managed by the Center for Research Informatics, and funded by the Biological Sciences Division and the Institute for Translational Medicine CTSA Grant (UL1 RR024999).