Acculturation and manifestation of depressive symptoms among Korean-American older adults

Yuri Jang, G. Kim, D. Chiriboga

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85 Scopus citations


The present study examined the role of acculturation in manifestation of depressive symptoms among 230 Korean-American older adults (M age = 69.8, SD = 7.05) in Florida. Given the cultural emphasis on modesty and self-effacement in the traditional Korean society, we hypothesized that older Korean-Americans who were less acculturated to American culture, when compared to the more acculturated ones, would be more likely to inhibit positive affects in depressive symptom reports. Using two validated measures of depressive symptoms, the short forms of the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-SF) and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D), different response patterns for low and high acculturation groups were identified. First, there was low comparability in the factor structures for both the GDS-SF and the CES-D across low and high acculturation groups. A differential item function (DIF) analysis based on partial correlations indicated that older adults in the low acculturation group inhibited endorsing positive affect items; one item in the GDS-SF (#7 'feel happy') and two items in the CES-D (# 5 'felt hopeful' and # 8 'was happy'). The finding suggests the substantial cultural influences in expressing emotions, especially those related to positive affects. Implications are discussed from a cultural perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-507
Number of pages8
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the startup grant from the Florida Mental Health Institute at the University of South Florida. The authors would like to thank Korean elders who participated in the project. Special appreciation goes to the members of the Tampa Korean Elderly Association and the Orlando Korean Senior Center.


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