Transcultural spirituality: the spiritual journey of hospitalized patients with schizophrenia in Taiwan


  • Chun-Tien Yang,

    1. Dr Chun-Tien Yang RN PhD Assistant Professor Department of Nursing, Tzu Chi College of Technology, Hualien City, Taiwan
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  • Aru Narayanasamy,

    1. Dr Aru Narayanasamy RN PhD Associate Professor University of Nottingham Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences School of Nursing, Midwifery & Physiotherapy, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK
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  • Sung-Ling Chang

    1. Sung-Ling Chang MSc RN Nursing Supervision Officer Department of Nursing, Yuli Hospital, Department of Health, Executive Yuan, Yuli Township, Taiwan
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A. Narayanasamy: e-mail:


YangC.-T., Narayanasamy A. & Chang S.-L. (2012) Transcultural spirituality: the spiritual journey of hospitalized patients with schizophrenia in Taiwan. Journal of Advanced Nursing 68(2), 358–367.


Aim.  The aim of this study was to explore how hospitalization and the diagnosis of schizophrenia have an impact on Taiwanese patients’ spiritual life.

Background.  Psychiatric nurses tend to construe patients’ spiritual issues as pathological problems and consequently are reluctant to address patient’s spirituality, which results in spirituality being overlooked in mental illness. An individual’s spiritual journey is dependent upon their cultural background and beliefs; however, the professional’s preconceived ideas suppress the voice of patients with schizophrenia to share their experiences of their spiritual journey. The lack of research exploring spirituality in mental illness in Taiwan means that spiritual care is overlooked in practice. This study sets out to explore spirituality from the perspectives of patients in two mental hospitals in Taiwan.

Methods.  Using a qualitative approach, 22 long-term hospitalized patients diagnosed with schizophrenia were interviewed. Several themes from the data were identified using Ritchie and Spencer’s (1994) five stages analytical framework. The study was carried out from 2006 to 2008.

Results.  Patients revealed spiritual distress as a consequence of prolonged hospitalization. They used referents consistent with traditional Chinese philosophical perspectives derived from Taoism and Confucianism to describe various features of their spiritual distress and their longing for spiritual revival, transcendence and to be accepted as normal persons.

Conclusions.  In this age of globalization, nurses need to be fully cognisant of the cultural aspects of patients to respond to a mental health patient’s spirituality. Clinical and educational guidelines and policies could be developed for spiritual care in Taiwan.