An empirical evaluation of social support and psychological well-being in older Chinese and Korean immigrants

Ethn Health. 2007 Jan;12(1):43-67. doi: 10.1080/13557850600824104.


Objectives: To examine, among older Chinese and Korean immigrants: (1) the concept and measurement of perceived social support; (2) levels of social support and psychological well-being by living arrangement; and (3) whether social support is positively related to psychological well-being.

Design: A convenience sample of 200 self-identified Chinese and Koreans, aged 65 years and older, were interviewed. Psychometric analysis was conducted to examine the reliability and validity of a new social support measure. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to examine the relationship between social support and psychological well-being.

Results: Factor analysis revealed a four-factor solution of social support and adequate psychometrics of all social support scales was found. Multivariate results suggest that Koreans have more depression than Chinese (p < 0.01). Those who lived with their spouse and adult children had lower overall psychological well-being (p < 0.05) and lower positive affect (p < 0.05) compared to those who lived alone. Having more emotional/companionship support significantly (p < 0.001) contributed to better overall psychological well-being, having less depression and higher positive affect.

Conclusions: A new multidimensional social support measure for use with older Chinese and Koreans could be useful upon further validation. These results suggest that older Chinese and Koreans' psychological well-being may be negatively affected when they live with their adult children. More depression in Koreans may be related to difficulties in expanding their social network beyond Korean-speaking people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / ethnology
  • Canada
  • China / ethnology
  • Depression / ethnology
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Korea / ethnology
  • Language
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Social Support*