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Limited English proficiency, social network characteristics, and depressive symptoms among older immigrants

TitleLimited English proficiency, social network characteristics, and depressive symptoms among older immigrants
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsDiwan, S
JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc SciJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Date PublishedMay
ISBN Number1079-5014 (Print)<br/>1079-5014 (Linking)
Accession Number18559693
KeywordsAcculturation, Aged, Demography, Depression/diagnosis/ epidemiology/ psychology, Educational Status, Emigrants and Immigrants/ psychology/ statistics & numerical data, Ethnic Groups/psychology/statistics & numerical data, Family/psychology, Female, Humans, Language, Male, Middle Aged, Religion, Social Support, United States
AbstractOBJECTIVES: The purpose of the study was to examine differences in social network characteristics and their relationship to depressive symptoms among two groups of older Asian Indian immigrants: those with limited English proficiency and those proficient in English. METHODS: Telephone surveys were conducted with 226 English-speaking (Sample 1) and 114 Gujarati-speaking (Sample 2) immigrants in Atlanta. RESULTS: The samples differed significantly in demographics and patterns of social integration. Sample 2 had shorter residence in the United States, a more traditional ethnic identity, greater reliance on family for social activities, greater participation in religious events, lower likelihood of having good friends nearby, and less frequent interactions with friends. Rates of depressive symptoms did not differ, and network composition was unrelated to symptoms. For both samples, poorer health and a more traditional ethnic identity were related to depressive symptoms. Quality of relationship with children was predictive of symptoms for Sample 2. DISCUSSION: I found no differences in depressive symptoms despite differing social network structures. This may be due to the differing expectations of social ties among older immigrants. Interventions to improve well-being should focus on issues that generate acculturative stress. Cognitive and social support interventions may help individuals develop the adaptive coping strategies needed to live in a different culture.