A cross-sectional study of coping resources and mental health of Chinese older adults in the United States

Man Guo, Nadia Sabbagh Steinberg, Xinqi Dong, Agnes Tiwari

Publication Date: 11/02/2018

Objectives: This study examined the potential influence of coping resources at individual (sense of mastery), family (spousal and family support, children’s filial piety), and community levels (community cohesion) on the mental health (depression, anxiety) of U.S. Chinese older adults.

Methods: The data were derived from the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago (N= 3,159). Negative binomial regressions were performed to predict depression and anxiety, respectively, by entering the three sets of coping resources separately and jointly, controlling for socio-demographic and acculturation variables. Results: Stronger sense of mastery and greater perception of children’s filial piety were associated with better mental health outcomes. Spousal support was not associated with any mental health outomes, and family support was actually assciated with greater depression and anxiety. Stronger community cohesion was associated with fewer depressive symptoms but greater anxiety.

Conclusion: Older immigrants’ sense of control and perception that children adhere to traditional family norms are important mental health protective factors. Whereas depending on families for support may compromise their well-being, community cohesion could be a double-edged sword for their mental health. Future studies shall further disentangle the associations among sense of mastery, reliance on family and ethnic enclaves for support, and older immigrants’ well-being.