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Exploring Levels and Correlates of Depression Literacy Among Older Korean Immigrants

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Abstract

Objectives

Despite the high prevalence of depression among older Korean Americans (KAs), there has been very little research on depression literacy among older KAs. This study identified specific areas of improvement in depression literacy to address mental health promotion among KAs. Twenty-two items on the depression literacy scale were grouped under five key themes: incidence and prognosis, differential symptoms, symptom recognition, non-pharmacological effectiveness, and pharmacological knowledge. This study aimed to assess the level of understanding depression literacy based on five domains and identify factors associated with depression literacy and its domains among older KAs.

Methods

A cross-sectional study with 178 KAs aged 60 years and older was conducted in the Washington DC Metro area. Interviewer and self-administered questionnaires were used to collect data. Multiple linear regression analyses were conducted to identify factors associated with depression literacy and its domains. Statistical significance was set at p < .05 for analyses.

Results

Knowledge pertaining to all 5 depression literacy domains was low, particularly on pharmacological treatment and differential symptoms were noticeably low. The majority of participants had misconceptions about antidepressants. 86% believed that antidepressants can have a rapid effect on symptoms, 82.6% believed people with depression should stop taking antidepressants as soon as they feel better, and 66.3% believed antidepressants were addictive.

Conclusion

Misperception about depression and antidepressants may be associated with poor mental health outcomes among older KAs. Culturally-tailored education for older KAs with limited English proficiency could be beneficial in promoting depression literacy and reducing stigma or misconceptions regarding depression and treatments.

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Oh, K.M., Baird, B., Alqahtani, N. et al. Exploring Levels and Correlates of Depression Literacy Among Older Korean Immigrants. J Cross Cult Gerontol 37, 295–313 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10823-022-09461-3

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