Title page for ETD etd-1029102-194713

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Kim, Shinyeol
URN etd-1029102-194713
Title The Effects of Socioeconomic Status, Social Support, and Acculturation on the Mental and Physical Health among Korean American Older Adults in Chicago Metropolitan Area
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Social Work
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Brij Mohan Committee Chair
Paul K. H. Kim Committee Member
Priscilla D. Allen Committee Member
Steven R. Rose Committee Member
Louis Harrison, Jr Dean's Representative
  • mental health
  • acculturation
  • physical health
  • older adults
  • seniors
  • minority elderly
Date of Defense 2002-10-25
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of this study was to examine the way that Socioeconomic status (SES), social support, and acculturation may influence physical and mental health status of Korean American older adults. It was premised that SES, social support and acculturation are directly and/or indirectly related to the mental and physical health status of Korean American older adults manifested by respective symptoms. The following two objectives were established: 1) Explore the characteristics of Korean American older adults including socioeconomic status, acculturation level, social support, and physical and mental health status. 2) Assess direct and indirect effects of socioeconomic status, acculturation level, and social support on the mental and physical health status of Korean American older adults.

Though the social support construct itself did not correlate to the degree of health status in this study, some of observed indicators such as number of network contact, the degree of perceived and actual social support showed significant correlation with the degree of respondentí»s perceived physical health status. There was also a significant relationship between the social support indicators and mental health construct. Those who had social support available were less vulnerable to experiencing depressive symptoms. In addition, it was shown that some of socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of respondents were directly related to the mental health status of Korean American older adults.

Mental and physical health and the aging process of Korean American older adults appeared to be complicated with many factors. First of all they were old immigrants who came to the United States relatively recently to unite with their adult children. The majority of them were living apart from their children. Their sense of self and satisfaction was greatly influenced by the quality of their relationship with their children. Secondly, Korean American older adults were living in a culturally and physically different environment with a number of barriers, such as language, transportation, isolation, and loneliness. And finally, they lacked appropriate socioeconomic resources and support systems.

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