We compiled primary data using an online survey collected from May 24, 2020, to June 14, 2020. The sample comprised 790 Korean Americans (both U.S.-born and foreign-born). We used a Confirmatory Factor Analysis model to examine whether the questionnaire's observable variables accurately reflected the latent variables of interest (i.e., psychological distress, social support, and resilience). After confirmation, we employed a structural equation model, specifically a moderated mediation model, to examine the associations among the variables.
The goodness-of-fit for the model indices indicated a good fit of the data (CFI = .96, TLI = .97, RMSEA = .03, and SRMR = .05). Social support was positively associated with resilience, and resilience and social support were negatively associated with psychological distress. Resilience partially mediated the association between social support and psychological distress in both models. The direct effect of social support on psychological distress was not completely removed when the mediator (resilience) was entered into the model. The model indicated that greater social support led to a lower level of psychological distress, and an individual’s level of resilience mediated the effect of social support on psychological distress. Our main interest in the current study was the indirect effect of social support mediated by resilience on psychological distress. The indirect effects for both models were statistically significant in the bootstrap analysis using a 95 percent confidence interval (p = .002 and p = .004, respectively). In the study sample with language barriers, compared to those without language barriers, the indirect effect of social support on psychological distress through resilience was reduced. Finally, The direct effect of social support on psychological distress was greater for those with language barriers than those without language barriers when the mediating effect of resilience was controlled. The direct effect of social support on psychological distress was statistically significant in both models. This suggested that the effect of social support on psychological distress is partially mediated by resilience.
Our study first implies the importance of social support and working to reduce language barriers to build a high level of resilience in Korean Americans for ultimately improving their mental health during the pandemic; secondly, it stresses the importance of linguistically and culturally sensitive resilience-focused interventions in community services for Korean Americans’ mental health. Understanding each subgroup of Asian Americans would be beneficial for providing the most practical needs and proactive and preventive actions. Being able to dissect the factors influencing people’s resilience is critically important to inform future practice, policy, and research, especially amid and post-COVID-19.