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Journal Article

Prevalence and Predictors of Depression in Korean American Elderly: Findings from the Memory and Aging Study of Koreans (MASK)

OBJECTIVES: To estimate the prevalence and identify the predictors of depression among community-dwelling Korean American elderly (KAE). DESIGN: A cross-sectional descriptive epidemiological survey using a two-step sampling strategy to obtain a representative community sample. SETTING: The authors recruited study participants at religious, service, and business establishments in the KA community (26 churches, 6 senior centers, 2 medical daycare centers, 1 supermarket). PARTICIPANTS: Community-dwelling first-generation KAE (N = 1,118; mean age +/- SD: 70.5 +/- 7.0 years; female: 67.2%). MEASUREMENTS: Trained bilingual nurses and community health workers interviewed participants face-to-face for demographic information, chronic conditions, and depression using the Korean versions of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9K). RESULTS: 30.3% of KAEs were classified as having either mild (PHQ-9K score 5-9; N = 218, 19.5%) or clinical depression (PHQ-9K score >/=10; N = 120, 10.8%), respectively. One of seven KAE (N = 164, 14.7%) endorsed thoughts of death or self-injury, but only 63 (5.7%) reported utilizing mental health services. The authors also identified several predictors of depression, including living arrangement (living alone versus living with family/spouse); having chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, digestive disorders, or chronic bronchitis; years of education; and cognitive impairment. CONCLUSIONS: The authors' findings reveal a high prevalence of depression among KAE and a low level of mental health service utilization. Because there are urgent needs for culturally and contextually relevant interventions, the authors also discuss the feasibility of community-based interventions to reduce the burden of depression, which should be incorporated into a management system for multiple chronic conditions.

M.T. Kim
K.B. Kim
H. Han
B. Huh
T. Nguyen
H.B. Lee
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