Correlates of depression in the Korean American elderly: Focusing on personal resources of social support

Hae Ra Han, Miyong Kim, Hochang B. Lee, Gina Pistulka, Kim B. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Today's Korean American elderly are predominantly first-generation immigrants who face stern challenges of acculturation, which is often associated with depression. Social support has been identified as an effective personal resource for alleviating acculturative stress and achieving better mental health outcomes. The purposes of this study were to describe available sources of social support utilized by Korean elders and to examine the relationships among acculturative stress, social support, and depression. In particular, social support was operationalized as an integrative concept encompassing the size of the social network, satisfaction with the support received, and appraisals of the level of social support. This study was a secondary data analysis of an existing survey of 205 elderly Korean immigrants (≥60 years) in a major metropolitan city on the East coast. Adult children were found to be the main source of support utilized by elders, even when the elder had a living spouse. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that higher acculturative stress and lower social support were associated with higher depression scores after demographics and health status were controlled for, whereas network size and satisfaction with support were not. Future interventions should address the cultural/social needs of these immigrants, not only by reinforcing their existing social network but also by providing additional support for their family members to prevent social isolation and depression in the population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-127
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Acculturative stress
  • Depression
  • Elders
  • Korean Americans
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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