Method: 558 foreign wives (41.4% Vietnamese, 21% Chinese, 15% Philippines, 22.5% Others) from 36 agencies across the nation that provide multicultural family support program participated in this self-administered questionnaire study. Instruments used in this study included Acculturative Stress Scale (Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994), Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (Zimmet et al., 1988), and the CES-Depression Scale. Multiple regression analyses that included interaction term(s) were conducted, controlling for age, education, marital period, Korean proficiency, and perceived economic difficulty.
Results: As expected, foreign wives with a higher level of acculturative stress showed a higher level of depressive symptoms in all analyses (ps<.05). In separate analyses for each measure of perceived social support and its interaction term, each source of perceived support (i.e., husband, in-laws, friend, and social worker) had a significant direct effect on depressive symptoms (ps<.05), and none of the interaction term was significant. Only perceived spouse support showed a marginally significant interaction effect (p<.10), suggesting that perceived support from husband may reduce the impact of acculturative stress on foreign wives' depression. In an analysis of the full model, however, only two of the social support measures, perceived spouse support and friend support showed significant direct effects (ps<.05), and none of the interaction terms was significant.
Conclusions and Implications: These findings suggest that perceived support from husband, in-laws, friend, and/or social worker may have direct negative effects on depression among foreign wives in Korea rather than it moderates the impact of acculturative stress on these women's depression. To promote these marriage immigrant women's mental health it seems important to enhance social support from these sources, and to help them understand such support is available. Given the significant positive effects of perceived spouse support on foreign wives' mental health, efforts to enhance marital relations between these women and their Korean husbands are particularly needed.