Attitudes toward mental health services: Age-group differences in Korean American adults

Yuri Jang, David A. Chiriboga, Sumie Okazaki

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95 Scopus citations


The present study examined the attitudes toward mental health services held by younger (aged 20-45, n = 209) and older (aged 60 and older, n = 462) groups of Korean Americans. Following Andersen's (1968; A behavioral model of families' use of health service, Center for Health Administration Studies) behavioral health model, predisposing (age, gender, marital status and education), need (anxiety and depressive symptoms) and enabling (acculturation, health insurance coverage and personal experience and beliefs) variables were considered. In the mean-level assessment, younger and older adults were found to hold a similar level of positive attitudes toward mental health services. In the multivariate analysis, culture-influenced beliefs were shown to have a substantial contribution to the model of attitudes toward mental health services in both age groups. The belief that depression is a medical condition was found to be a common predictor of positive attitudes across the groups. In the older adult sample, more negative attitudes were observed among those who believed that depression is a sign of personal weakness and that having a mentally ill family member brings shame to the whole family. Our findings show that older adults are not only more subject to cultural misconceptions and stigma related to mental disorders, but also their attitudes toward service use are negatively influenced by the cultural stigma. The findings provide important implications for interventions targeted to improve access to mental health care among minority populations. Based on the similarities and differences found between young and old, both general and age-specific strategies need to be developed in order to increase effectiveness of these programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-134
Number of pages8
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported in part by the National Institute on Aging Research Grant Program (1R03 AG 26332-01) and the American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program (Follow-up Mentoring Support under Grant 1R13 MH 075624).


  • Korean American adults
  • Mental health
  • Service utilization


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