The perceptions, social determinants, and negative health outcomes associated with depressive symptoms among U.S. Chinese older adults.Gerontologist 2012; 52(5):650-63G
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
Recent demographic growth of the U.S. Chinese aging population calls for comprehensive understanding of their unique health needs. The objective of this study is to examine the perceptions, social determinants of depressive symptoms as well as their impact on health and well-being in a community-dwelling U.S. Chinese aging population in Chicago.
DESIGN AND METHODS
A community-based participatory research approach was implemented to partner with the Chicago Chinatown population in a geographically defined community. Data were collected from questionnaires and semistructured focus group interviews with 78 community-dwelling Chinese older adults.
Our findings suggest that the depressive symptoms were common among older adults. It was frequently identified through feelings of helplessness, feelings of dissatisfaction with life, feelings of getting bored, loss of interests in activities, suicidal ideation, and feelings of worthlessness. Societal conflicts, family conflicts, financial constraints, personality, and worsening physical health may be associated with greater depressive symptoms. In addition, depressive symptoms may be detrimental to the overall health and well-being of Chinese older adults.
This study has wide implications for health care professionals, social services agencies, and policy makers. Our results call for improved public health education and awareness programs to highlight the health impact of depressive symptoms on Chinese older adults. Future prospective studies are needed to investigate the prevalence of depressive symptoms among U.S. Chinese older adults. Longitudinal research is needed to quantify the risk and protective factors of depressive symptoms.