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Keywords:

  • anxiety;
  • beliefs;
  • culture;
  • mental health nursing;
  • physical activity;
  • Taiwan

Aims and objectives.  This paper analysed the scholarly discourse about the influence of Taiwanese culture on beliefs about expressing anxiety and engaging in physical activity from literature review.

Background.  The well-being of individuals with mental illness is promoted by the World Health Organization. Reducing barriers to treatment and care in community health-service systems requires cultural understanding. However, little is known about the influence of Taiwanese culture on physical activity programmes for people with anxiety disorders in Taiwan.

Design.  A discursive analysis of the literature.

Method.  Literature was used to examine the impact of Taiwanese culture on beliefs about anxiety and physical activity from historical, economic, social, political and geographical perspectives.

Results.  Taiwanese cultural beliefs about anxiety and physical activity can be summarised into six themes. Beliefs about anxiety are reflected in three themes: anxiety and shame, beliefs against direct communication and beliefs about anxiety and external forces. Beliefs about engaging in physical activity are reflected in three themes: beliefs about human action, the relationship between health and physical activity and priority of academic achievement.

Conclusion.  This paper exposes the hidden power of culture to influence Taiwanese beliefs about anxiety and physical activity. Three negative beliefs about anxiety influence the expression of anxiety symptoms and help-seeking behaviours. Two positive and one negative belief about physical activity significantly affect choice of activity type and level of participation in physical activity. Anxiety and physical activity have a dynamic relationship and both are deeply influenced by Taiwanese culture.

Relevance to clinical practice.  An awareness of cultural influences on beliefs about anxiety and physical activity is important when encouraging Taiwanese people with anxiety disorders to engage in physical activity. This awareness may help nurses understand better how their patients perceive anxiety and physical activity, leading to more appropriate physical activity programmes to improve both physical and psychological well-being.