Face-Saving and Depressive Symptoms Among U.S. Chinese Older Adults

Dexia Kong, Yin Ling Irene Wong, Xinqi Dong

Publication Date: 06/09/2020

Face-saving represents a unique culturally salient construct among Chinese. However, our understanding regarding its relationship with psychological distress in this population remains limited. The objective of this cross-sectional study is to examine (1) the relationship between face-saving and depressive symptoms among U.S. Chinese older adults; and (2) whether face-saving mediates the relationship between acculturation and depressive symptoms. Data were from the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago (N = 3132), the largest epidemiologic study of Chinese older adults in Western countries. The relationship between face-saving and self-reported depressive symptoms was investigated by step-wise multivariable linear regression models. The Sobel test was used to test the mediating effect of face-saving. U.S. Chinese older adults with higher face-saving values experienced greater levels of depressive symptoms (B = 0.05, p < 0.001) than those with lower face-saving values, even after sociodemographic factors, health characteristics, and social support were accounted for. The mediation effect of face-saving was not statistically significant. The study findings underscore the significance of a unique cultural factor, specifically face-saving, in understanding U.S. Chinese older adults’ experience of depressive symptoms. Depression screening and treatment programs should pay attention to face-saving issues among U.S. Chinese older adults. Future studies need to incorporate cultural factors in mental health research in diverse populations. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.0313