Abstract: (Withdrawn) Culturally Relevant Mental Health Service: The Integrated Care Coordinators Program for Korean Immigrants (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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403P (Withdrawn) Culturally Relevant Mental Health Service: The Integrated Care Coordinators Program for Korean Immigrants

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Karen Kyeunghae Lee, PhD, Associate Professor, California State University, Fullerton, CA
Mikyong Kim-Goh, PhD, Professor, California State University, Fullerton, CA
Background and Purpose: The interest in Asian Americans’ mental health needs and treatment outcomes has increased over the years. However, the disparities in mental health care among this population still exist. A recent report based on the California Health Interview Survey data showed that more than half (51%) of all Asians with a perceived need for mental health services experienced an unmet need for mental health care (Tse et al., 2021). The California Reducing Disparities Project (CRDP) was founded to achieve mental health equity for five priority populations in California, including Asian and Pacific Islanders. As a part of CRDP, the “Integrated Care Coordinators” (ICC) program aimed to prevent or reduce mental illness among Korean and Vietnamese immigrants by providing culturally competent navigator services in the integrated health care setting. The ICC program included three components: 1) Information and Referral, 2) Linkages and Follow-Up, and 3) Ongoing Integrated Care. The present study, focusing on the ongoing integrated care component, examined the ICC program’s effectiveness in reducing psychological distress and functional impairment among Korean American immigrants.

Methods: The evaluation used a non-experimental pre-and post-test design. Surveys were administered by Korean bilingual staff at the time of participants’ enrollment in the ICC program and at discharge. During the coronavirus pandemic, surveys were collected mainly using phone and email. Survey questions include sociodemographic variables, mental health status, protective and risk factors for mental health, mental health service utilization, and program outcomes. The survey items were developed in English and translated into Korean. Psychological distress was measured with the 6-item Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6; Kessler et al., 2002). Functional impairment in four areas of life (school/work, household chores, social life, and relationship) was measured with the modified 4-item Sheehan’s Disability Scale (CHIS, 2016).

Results: A total of 102 Korean American participants completed both pre-and post-surveys. The participants were predominantly foreign-born (97%) and female (74%). About half of the participants were 50 years or older (50%) and had limited English fluency (46%). Result showed statistically significant reduction in psychological distress among ICC program participants: t (97) = 6.98, p < .001. The mean of psychological distress was 11.10 at pre-survey and 7 at post-survey. For functional impairment, the total scores were significantly decreased at post-survey (M = 3.37, SD = 1.92) than at pre-survey (M =4.63, SD = 2.04), t (59) = 3.55, p= .001.

Conclusions and Implications: We found that two primary outcomes, psychological distress, and functional impairment, decreased significantly at the time of post-survey. Overall, the ICC program appears to be an effective prevention and early intervention program for Korean American participants. Culturally sensitive framework and strategies are likely to have contributed to this change. This study provides potential evidence for culturally relevant practice innovation for underserved immigrant clients at risk of developing mental illness. The findings of the ICC program evaluation can inform the planning and implementation of community-defined evidence projects in the future and decrease disparities further.