The present study explored the role of loneliness in the association between social isolation and psychological distress, using a cross-sectional sample of older Korean immigrants in the U.S. Considering structural (unmarried and living alone) and relational (isolation from family and friends) social isolation, we hypothesized that (1) both types of social isolation would be associated with loneliness and psychological distress and (2) their effect on psychological distress would be mediated through loneliness. Data came from the Study of Older Korean Americans (SOKA), a multisite survey of Korean immigrants aged 60 and older (n = 2,150). The multivariate analyses demonstrated that older individuals with structural and relational isolation reported higher levels of loneliness and psychological distress. Loneliness was found to mediate the effect of both types of social isolation on psychological distress. The intervening role of loneliness suggests strategies to alleviate the mental health consequences of social isolation in older immigrants.
- Lubben Social Network Scale-6(LSNS-6)
- older Korean immigrants
- psychological distress
- social isolation