Taboo in the Workplace: A Qualitative Study of Taiwanese Nurses' “Not-Eating Pineapple” in Clinical Practice

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Abstract

There has been an increased emphasis on nurses' mental health and well-being in the workplace. Psychologists have established a correlative link between individual's beliefs on luck and mental health. The pineapple taboo has been observed among Taiwanese hospital nurses as a prevalent superstitious belief for bringing luck or warding off increased clinical workloads, but how and why the ritual persists in the hospital workplace remains unknown. This article aims to explore the latent meaning of observance of the taboo and how it is related to nurses' clinical practice and possibly affects their mental health at work. A qualitative research was designed in line with the hermeneutic phenomenological method. Through purposive sampling, 18 nurse participants were recruited for in-depth semistructured interviews. Resulting from the ensuing analysis, 3 modalities were identified as constituting the spectrum of observance of the taboo: (a) “strictly not eating pineapple”; (b) “not eating pineapple at work”; and (c) “eating pineapple without admitting to doing so.” Each reflects the position of nurses revealed in relation to the pineapple taboo in clinical settings. Based on the subjective narratives of nurses, it may be understood as an active moral attempt at “being right” rather than a passive avoidance of bad luck in the taboo observation. The findings facilitate an appropriate understanding of the embedded meaning of nurses' workplace-related belief and its seminal function of empowerment for nurses in holistic nursing practice.

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