Mental health service utilization among Korean elders in Korean churches: Preliminary findings from the Memory and Aging Study of Koreans in Maryland (MASK-MD)

Hochang Benjamin Lee, Hae Ra Han, Bo Yun Huh, Kim B. Kim, Miyong T. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Korean Americans (KA) comprise the fourth largest Asian-American subgroup, with a population estimated at nearly 1.7 million, and the vast majority (up to 85%) of KA elders attends ethnic churches. Despite the rapid increase of the KA elderly population, data on mental health service utilization among KA elders are scarce. Method: Based on a cluster sampling method, the Memory and Aging Study among Koreans in Maryland (MASK-MD) recruited and assessed 630 KA elders (mean age: 70.9 ± 6.1 years; 68.9% female) in KA churches for depression, dementia, and level of mental health service utilization. The Korean versions of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9K) and Mini-mental Status Examination (MMSE-KC) were administered by trained community health workers. Results: Of the 630 participants, 23.2% and 7.3% had PHQ-9 scores of 5 ('mild depression') or above and 10 or above ('clinical depression'), respectively. In addition, 7.0% scored below the age- and education-specific cutoff values for probable dementia based on the MMSE-KC. Of the 92 participants with 'clinical depression' or having thoughts of death or self-injury, only 16 (17%) reported utilizing mental health services. Likewise, of 56 participants with probable dementia, only 3 (7.3%) sought treatment from a health care provider. Conclusion: The prevalence of depression and cognitive impairment are high in community-dwelling KA elders attending KA churches, but the rate of mental health service utilization among depressed or cognitively impaired Korean elders is low. Further research is warranted to identify barriers to and strategies for adequate mental health care for Korean immigrant elders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-109
Number of pages8
JournalAging and Mental Health
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2014

Keywords

  • Cultural aspects
  • Epidemiology (dementia)
  • Epidemiology (mental health)
  • Health service use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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