Disability as a risk factor for psychological distress among asian-american elders

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University of Alabama Libraries

Research has shown a strong association between disability and psychological distress (PD) among older adults. However, little is known about how this relation varies among different subgroups of Asian-American elders. The present study aims to examine the relation between disability and PD within five subgroups of Asian Americans age 60 and older (N=1398): Chinese (n = 291), Japanese (n = 175), Koreans (n =383), Filipinos (n = 149), and Vietnamese (n = 400). Data were drawn from the 2009 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). A generalized linear model (GzLM) analysis was conducted to assess the overall relations of disability with PD, as well as how these effects were moderated by ethnicity. The three types of disabilities being examined (vision/hearing, cognitive, and ADL functional disabilities) were all associated with increased PD. It was also found that the effects of having cognitive or ADL functional disabilities depended on the elder's ethnicity. Having a cognitive or an ADL functional disability led to notably more distress among Filipinos than among those from other Asian subgroups. In addition, the effect of having an ADL functional disability was not significant for Japanese, even though it was significant for all of the other ethnicities. This current study sheds light on understanding disability as a risk factor for poor mental health among the five subgroups of Asian-American elders. The findings can be applied to enhance the psychological wellbeing of disabled Asian American elders by providing culturally-sensitive mental health services tailored to their specific needs.

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Mental health, Aging, Asian American studies