Depression and its psychosocial correlates among older Asian immigrants in North America: a critical review of two decades' research

J Aging Health. 2008 Sep;20(6):615-52. doi: 10.1177/0898264308321001.


Objective: This article critically reviews two decades of empirically based depression studies on older Asian immigrants (OAIs) in North America published in English. The Psychosocial Model of Late-Life Depression is proposed as the conceptual roadmap to help interpret the findings across studies.

Methods: Using multiple bibliographic databases, this review systematically summarized and evaluated findings in 24 studies in terms of: (a) the prevalence and severity of depression; (b) demographic, psychosocial, cultural, and health risk factors of depression; and (c) methodological approaches and designs.

Results: The results showed that depression is prevalent among OAIs and is linked to gender, recency of immigration, English proficiency, acculturation, service barriers, health status, relationship with children and family, and social support. However, considerable variability in the results, the sample sizes, and the use of measurements were also found across studies.

Discussion: Recommendations for future research and the provision of clinical and community services are discussed within the psychosocial model.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian Americans / psychology*
  • Asian Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Canada
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / ethnology
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family
  • Far East / ethnology
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States