Abstract: The Impact of Religion, Spirituality, and Social Support on Depression and Life Satisfaction among Korean Immigrant Older Adults (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

12482 The Impact of Religion, Spirituality, and Social Support on Depression and Life Satisfaction among Korean Immigrant Older Adults

Saturday, January 16, 2010: 8:00 AM
Pacific Concourse O (Hyatt Regency)
* noted as presenting author
Soonhee Roh, MSW , New York University, PhD candidate, Woodside, NY
Purpose: Research on the intersections of religion, spirituality, social support, and health has ascended rapidly into prominence over the past decade. In the past, religion and spirituality was largely ignored by medical and social science research, mainly because it was believed to be either too personal or irrelevant to health (Koenig et al., 2001), but also because the concepts of religion, spirituality and social support are difficult to define, measure, and test using the scientific paradigm and scientific methods (Levin, 1994). There is evidence that religious attendance and social support are related to better health outcomes among older adults (Bagiella, Hong, & Sloan, 2005; Koenig et al., 2001; Strawbridge, Cohen, & Kaplan, 2001; Yoon, 2006; Zukerman, Kasl, & Ostfeld, 1984), but the reason why is not clear, and possible pathways that might explain such associations have not been adequately explored or tested (Levin, 1994; Oman & Reed, 1998; Strawbridge et al., 2001). The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships among religious experiences, spiritual practices, social support, and depression and life satisfaction among Korean immigrant older adults in the New York City metropolitan area.

Method: The study utilized cross-sectional survey design. 200 participants who were age 65 years or older were recruited from Korean senior centers in the New York City metropolitan area. The Brief Multidimensional Measures of Religiousness/Spirituality (BMMRS) was used to measure various domains of religiousness/spirituality, including daily spiritual experiences, values/beliefs, forgiveness, private religious practice, religious/spiritual coping, and religious support. In an attempt to measure a broad range of social support, Lubben Social Network Scale-Revised (LSNS-R) was used. Depression was assessed using Geriatric Depression Scale-30 Korean version (GDS-K). To measure life satisfaction, the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS; Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985) was used.

Results: Multivariate analyses found social support was positively related to life satisfaction and religiousness/spirituality was associated with decreased depression after controlling for socio-demographic variables. In addition, social support was inversely related to depression.

Conclusions and Implications: This study's findings have the potential to enhance our understanding of the multidimensional aspects of religiousness/spirituality and social support among older adult immigrants including Koreans. The findings can be used to foster greater collaboration between the healthcare system and faith communities in order to improve quality of life of older adults. This study's finding will supplement geriatric mental health professionals, health care providers and social work practitioners' understanding of the adjustment processes of older Korean immigrants in order to develop culturally appropriate interventions.