The Mental Health Benefit of Friend Networks in Older Korean Americans: The Conditioning Effect of Family Type

Yuri Jang, Nan Sook Park, Juyoung Park, David A. Chiriboga, William E. Haley, Miyong T. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: We identified types of family relationships of older Korean Americans and examined how the mental health benefit of friend networks might be conditioned by family type. Methods: Data were from 2,070 participants in the Study of Older Korean Americans, a multistate survey of Korean immigrants aged 60 and older (Mage = 73.3, standard deviation [SD] = 8.01). To identify family types, latent profile analysis (LPA) was performed with marital status, living arrangement, family network, positive and negative interactions with family members, and family mistreatment. Linear regression models examined how mental distress was associated with friend networks and family types, as well as their interactions. Results: LPA identified 5 family types: close-knit, intimate but distant, detached, connected but dysfunctional, and dysfunctional. Greater distress was associated with smaller friend networks and belonging to the detached, connected but dysfunctional, and dysfunctional family types in comparison to the close-knit type. The interaction model showed that people in the connected but dysfunctional and dysfunctional groups had a stronger association between friend networks and mental distress than the counterparts in the close-knit group. Discussion: We not only confirmed the health-promoting role of friend networks and the value of a close-knit family but also found that the benefit of friend networks was pronounced when quality of the family relationship was impaired. Our findings called renewed attention to older immigrants' social convoys of family and friends, suggesting that the enhancement of friend networks could be particularly advantageous for older immigrants with dysfunctional family relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-153
Number of pages11
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data collection was supported by the National Institute on Aging (R01AG047106, PI: Y. Jang, PhD). N. S. Park, PhD was partially supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2020S1A5C2A03092919).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s).


  • Asian Americans
  • Family relationships
  • Friend network
  • Mental health
  • Older immigrants


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