Ramadan fasting intentions among pregnant women in Lebanon



Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of the Egyptian Public Health Association








Pregnancy, Ramadan, Religious fasting, Theory of planned behavior


Background: According to Islam’s teachings, women are religiously exempt from fasting during pregnancy if a woman is concerned about her health or that of the fetus. This study assesses the intentions of pregnant women to fast during Ramadan and evaluates the contribution of items derived from the theory of planned behavior (TPB) in predicting these intentions. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was carried out in Arabic on a convenience sample of 181 pregnant women in Lebanon using a mixture of in-person (46), telephone (31), and online recruitment (104) techniques from February to April 2020. An Exploratory Bayes Tree Analysis was done to examine which TPB items appeared to separate the intention to fast in the best possible way. Then, an ordinal regression was completed followed by a latent class analysis to examine specific classes of participants that could be determined based on the regression results. Results: Overall, 58% of participants had the intention to fast all days of Ramadan, 22% had the intention to fast some days and 20% did not intend to fast for any duration. A model was run with perceptions of physical ability, Islam guidance, husband’s opinion importance, mother’s opinion beliefs, and impact on general health as predictors (R 2 = 0.74). A four-cluster model was chosen as the most parsimonious one in interpretation, where classes one and two included the groups of women who intended to fast month-long with differences in predictors. Class three represented the group of women who did not have the intention to fast and the final class represented the group of women who had the intention to fast some days of the month. The women’s belief in their physical ability to fast and the opinion of the pregnant women’s mothers were very important in deciding the participants’ intention to fast. Conclusions: Items derived from TPB constructs helped in producing a model predicting women’s intention to fast during Ramadan. Educational messages and interventions related to fasting while pregnant may be delivered by individuals with legitimacy among pregnant women such as those viewed by the target population as powerful motherly figures in their communities.

Open Access