The relation between living alone and depressive symptoms in older Korean Americans: do feelings of loneliness mediate?

Nan Sook Park, Yuri Jang, Beom S. Lee, David A. Chiriboga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: As the opposite end of the continuum from social integration, social isolation may put individuals at a greater risk of poor mental health. Conceptualizing living alone as an objective and structural indicator of social isolation and loneliness as subjective perceptions of social isolation, the present study hypothesized that the relation between living alone and depressive symptoms would be mediated by the feelings of loneliness. Using older Korean Americans as the target population, the mediation model was examined in consideration of the contextual factors such as demographics (age, gender, education, perceived income, and length of stay in the USA), health (chronic conditions and functional disability), and general social integration (size of social network and community social cohesion). Method: Date were drawn from surveys with 209 older Korean Americans in Central Texas (Mage = 69.6, SD = 7.5). Multivariate regression models of depressive symptoms were entered in the following order: (1) demographics, (2) health, (3) living alone, (4) social network/community social cohesion, and (5) loneliness. The mediation effect of loneliness in the relationship between living alone and depressive symptoms was separately examined using the bootstrapping method. Results: Loneliness was found to mediate the relation between living alone and depressive symptoms (indirect effect = 1.03, 95% CI =.05–2.08). Conclusion: The results suggest that subjective perceptions of loneliness may explain the mechanism through which objective social isolation presents risks for depressive symptoms in older Korean Americans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-312
Number of pages9
JournalAging and Mental Health
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 4 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.

Keywords

  • depressive symptoms
  • living alone
  • loneliness
  • older Korean Americans

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