Relationship Between Perceived Neighborhood Environment and Depressive Symptoms in Older Korean Americans: Do Chronic Disease and Functional Disability Modify It?

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The purposes of the present study were to examine how perceptions by older Korean Americans about their neighborhood environment are associated with depressive symptoms, and to further explore how chronic disease and functional disability modify the relation between perceptions of neighborhood environment and depressive symptoms. The sample included 420 older Korean Americans from the New York metropolitan area. Blocks of independent variables were sequentially entered in regression models on depressive symptoms: demographics, health-related variables (chronic disease and functional disability), perceived neighborhood environment (ethnic density of Koreans, safety, social cohesion, and satisfaction), and interaction terms between health-related variables and perceived neighborhood environment. The significant interaction showed that the positive effect of social cohesion on depressive symptoms was particularly great among those with multiple chronic diseases. On the other hand, the impact of neighborhood safety was salient among those without functional disability. Drawing from the ecological perspectives, the study demonstrates that the impact of perceived neighborhood environment on mental well-being is conditional on individuals’ physical health and function.

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