Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Social Work

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. David Royse

Abstract

Few studies have examined the relationships among personal factors, acculturative stress, coping resources, and depression of Korean immigrant elders residing in areas without any Korean ethnic enclave. Based on the stress and coping model and the sociocultural model of stress, coping, and adaptation, this cross-sectional study examined the relationships among acculturative stress, coping, and depression in 111 non-institutionalized Korean immigrant elders aged 60 and older residing in areas without any Korean ethnic enclaves in three neighboring states of Southwestern Ohio, North Central Region of Kentucky, and Southern Indiana. A majority of convenience and snowball sample participated in self-administered mailed surveys, and a remaining few used phone surveys and personal interviews. Multiple regression analyses indicate that social support is the strongest predictor of depression, followed by somatization and acculturative stress. Principal component analysis indicates that the participants appraised limited English proficiency as the most stressful aspect of acculturative stress. Path analyses further reveal that acculturative stress had the largest total effect on depression and partially mediated the effect of the level of acculturation on depression. The results also show that social support had the large direct effect on depression and partially mediated the effect of acculturative stress on depression. Unexpectedly, religiosity was not a predictor of depression and did not have any effect on depression. Interestingly, somatization had the positive direct effect on depression. This study suggests that the level of acculturation, socioeconomic status and social support may influence acculturative stress and depression negatively; however, acculturative stress is the most significant risk factor for depression among the participants, decreasing coping efficacy of social support and increasing somatic symptoms. Implications for future research and practice are examined on social support from family and friends and on acculturative stress. It seems that culturally relevant programs and services are important vehicles through which to enhance personal resources and social support and reduce lingual and cultural barriers among Korean immigrant elders residing in areas without any Korean ethnic enclave.

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