Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

51P The Mediating Role of Acculturative Stress In the Relationship Between Acculturation Level and Depression Among Korean Immigrants In the U.S

Friday, January 13, 2012
Independence F - I (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Hyun-Sun Park, PhD, Assistant Professor, California State University, Northridge, Northridge, CA
Purpose: For more than two decades, research has indicated that Korean immigrants experience severe depressive symptoms due to the stresses associated with immigration. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of acculturation level and acculturative stress on depression among Korean immigrants to the U.S. Specifically, this study attempted to address the following questions: (1) What is the prevalence of depression among Korean immigrants?; (2) What is the role of acculturative stress and acculturative level on depression among Korean immigrants?; and (3) What is the path model that is adequate for these immigrants?

Methods: Using a cross-sectional design, this study employed nonprobability sampling which relies on available subjects. The sample consisted of 500 Korean immigrants. Data were collected through a survey questionnaire that measured depression (CES-D), level of acculturation, acculturative stress, age, age of migration, length of US residence, marital status, education level, employment status, and household income. Data were analyzed using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM).

Results: Descriptive analysis indicated that about half of the study subjects (48%) were considered as experiencing depressive symptoms with a CES-D score of 16 or higher (M=24.65, SD= 13.29). Path analysis presented that acculturative stress had significant direct effects on depression (standardized coefficient = 0.483, p = 0.013). Also, level of acculturation had significant indirect effects on depression through acculturative stress (standardized coefficient = -0.143, p = 0.009). Education (standardized coefficient = -0.106, p = 0.011) and income (standardized coefficient = -0.081, p = 0.013) had significant indirect effects on depression via acculturation level. Marital status had both direct (standardized coefficient = -0.139, p = 0.005) and indirect (standardized coefficient = 0.017, p = 0.016) effects on depression. Age had direct effects on depression (standardized coefficient = 0.107, p = 0.023), but its indirect effects via acculturation level was not significant. The path model adequately fit the data (chi-square = 6.800, df=7, p=0.450) and explained a significant amount of the total variance in depression (R2= 0.264, p=0.020). Additional fit indexes also indicated adequate model fit with GFI, TLI, and CFI all greater than 0.90, RMSEA less than 0.50, and SRMR less than 0.08.

Implications: The findings that indicated high prevalence of depression among Korean immigrants suggest that the needs assessment for this populations needs to be more active than just based on the utilization rate of the facilities, and any barriers to Korean immigrants accessing public services need to be addressed. In addition, the findings that show a mediating role of acculturative stress in the relationship between acculturation level and depression suggest that depression treatment for the Korean population needs to be geared toward reducing their acculturative stress and increasing their level of acculturation. Future studies need to verify the temporal ordering of acculturation level and acculturative stress in explaining depression.