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

17156 Older Korean American Immigrants' Formal and Informal Help-Seeking Intention In a Situation of Intimate Partner Violence

Saturday, January 14, 2012: 8:00 AM
Burnham (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Hee Yun Lee, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Edina, MN
Background. Elderly individuals' experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) have historically been lost in the gap between the elder mistreatment and domestic violence research paradigms (Hightower, 2002; Brandl & Cook-Daniels, 2002). The IPV theoretical framework more fully addresses elderly victims in the general population, although critical work still needs to be done with regard to understanding cultural difference in IPV. This study focuses on older Korean American immigrants to assess what factors are associated with informal and formal help-seeking behaviors with regard to IPV.

Method. The study utilized a mixed method and vignette approach—depicting physical abuse in an older Korean immigrant couple—and was informed by patriarchy theory. With a quota sampling strategy, 124 older Korean American immigrants were recruited in Los Angeles, CA. Ages ranged from 60 to 80 (mean=70, SD=5.1) and the average number of years in the U.S. was 20.35 (SD=9.1). To identify the relationship between help-seeking behaviors and a set of independent variables, multinomial logistic regression analysis was performed utilizing Stata 9.0. The regression model estimated what factors were linked to the odds of various help-seeking options (none vs. informal, none vs. formal, and formal vs. informal).

Findings. Only 44% of respondents perceived the given scenario as elder mistreatment, and 54% reported an intention to seek help if they were the elder depicted. Those who were female, scored lower on traditional values of elder care, and perceived the scenario as elder mistreatment were more likely to seek informal help than not to seek help. Respondents who were younger, female, identified the given IPV scenario as elder mistreatment (p<.001), and demonstrated low awareness of formal services were more likely to seek formal help than not to seek help. With regard to formal versus informal help-seeking, only age was significant: older respondents were more likely to seek informal than formal help.

Conclusion. Findings revealed that a notably low number of respondents—less than half—perceived the vignette to depict elder mistreatment. Low help-seeking intention was also observed. Logistic regression analysis revealed risk factors for IPV: those who were male, older, ascribed to traditional values of elder care, demonstrated greater awareness of elder mistreatment services, and did not recognize the vignette as elder mistreatment were less likely to seek any help. The study suggests that older Korean immigrants' ability to perceive IPV increases their propensity to seek help when faced with mistreatment, and culture plays a critical role in response to IPV. Culturally competent educational programs, interventions, and policy are needed with regard to IPV among older Korean immigrants, particularly among men with higher adherence to traditional cultural values.

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