Cultural Context of Family Religiosity/Spirituality among Korean-American Elderly Families

Suk Sun Kim, Yeoun Soo Kim-Godwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to explore the cultural context of family religiosity/spirituality among Korean-American elderly families, and how this changed after families immigrated to the USA. Fifty one first-generation Korean-Americans participated in one or two hour, in-depth interviews in Korean at a participant’s home or church. These included 27 older adults and 24 family members living together or within a radius of one-hour transit time from their elders, residing in the Southeastern United States. A thematic and interpretive method was used to analyze transcribed interviews. Three themes were identified that explained the cultural context of family religiosity/spirituality: (a) traditional family religious rituals, (b) church oriented routines, and (c) family collectivism. The participants did not distinguish ‘religiosity’ and ‘spirituality’ during the interviews. The findings suggest that the family religiosity/spirituality of the participants was influenced by the traditional family religious values, which were shaped by Korean culture. The traditional religions of Shamanism, Buddhism, and Confucianism are prevalent in Asian countries. Thus, the findings of this study may help healthcare professionals identify the cultural contexts of spirituality/religiosity of Asian immigrant families in order to provide holistic care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-65
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This study is a part of the postdoctoral fellow research of the first author from the Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health, Duke University Medical Center, which was funded by John Templeton Foundation. We gratefully acknowledge editing by Dr. Beverly Rosenthal and Dr. John Godwin.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Culture
  • Family spirituality
  • Korean Americans
  • Older adults
  • Spirituality, religiosity


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