Observing Food-Eating Taboos as Nursing Practice: Nurses' Clinical Experience with Rituals in Taiwan

Monday, 22 July 2013

Shu-Ling Tsai, RN, MA, BS
Department of Nursing, Chang-Gung University of Science & Technology, Puzi, Taiwan
Min-Tao Hsu, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Yu-Chien Hsu, MS, BS, RN
nursing department, Yuanpei University of Science and Technology, Hsin-Chu, Taiwan
Hsia-Tzu Kao, BS, MSN, RN
nursing deoartment, Tzu-Chi College of Technology, Hua-lien, Taiwan

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to see the living connection between the cultural food-eating taboos observing act and the ritual reinforcement of nursing profession.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to rethink the nursing practice in terms of a culturally broader context.

Purpose: This is a study on how a specific food-eating taboo observing act helps nurses adapt to clinical nursing practice and shape their understanding of nursing profession. Nursing can be viewed as a medical profession and a social behavior, and the following of nursing routines as out of professional demand and social coercion. Nonetheless, nurses do not restrict their rule-following act to the everyday nursing routines. They tend to tacitly observe a set of culturally imbedded taboos as well. In Taiwan, nurses do not eat pineapples, mangoes, among others, which may symbolize the clinical turmoil situations they try to avoid. How the ritualistic act is related to nursing profession and how it affects nurses’ adaptation to the clinical environment are the main objectives of this study.

Methods: In this qualitative study, 10 nurse participants in Taiwan were recruited for depth-interviews. Hermeneutic-phenomenological analysis was applied to identify and categorize participants’ responses to the interview questions. The researchers analyzed the text by focusing on the following issues: (1) disclosing the fore-structure of understanding, (2) reflecting on the essential themes, which characterize the phenomenon, (3) balancing the research context by considering parts and whole, (4) discovering the essential modes of involvement.

Results: Four themes of nurses’ experiences of food-eating taboos observing were identified: 1. a variety of food-eating taboos observing acts, 2. subduing anxiety at work, 3. participating in a nurse community, 4. ritual-observing as part of profession.

Conclusion: Nurses have no conflict in intertwining the ritualistic taboo-observing act with their professional routine work. Not only does this ritualistic act help them avoid the undesirable clinical situations they perceive, it also facilitates them blending into the nursing community effectively. Nursing profession should be understood in a broader culture context as a social group with special task.