Predictors of Depression among Midlife Women in South Korea

Friday, 25 July 2014: 11:05 AM

Ok-kyung Ham, PhD, RN
Department of Nursing, Inha University, Incheon, South Korea
Eun-Ok Im, RN, MPH, PhD, CNS, FAAN
School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Purpose: Across the globe, depressive symptoms are more prevalent in women compared with men. Especially among Korean midlife women in South Korea, the prevalence of depressive symptoms ranged from 14 to 22%. Furthermore, within the population, women with specific characteristics (e.g., low income) were reported to experience depressive symptoms more than their counterparts. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of depressive symptoms and identify predictors of depressive symptoms among midlife women in Korea.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among a convenient sample of 200 midlife women recruited from a community health center and a branch office of the Planned Population Federation of Korea located in one metropolitan area. Self-administered questionnaires included questions on socioeconomic characteristics, lifestyle behaviors, and the Beck Depression Inventory. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and multiple regression analyses.

Results: The mean age was 52.48 (SD=8.82, range = 35-65). Sixty-seven percent had monthly income of less than 1 million Won (US $1,000), and 39.5% were living without a spouse. Mild depression was reported in 20.0% of the women. Moderate and severe depression was reported in 25.0%. Depressive symptoms were significantly associated with income (≤ US $ 1,000), marital status (single, separated, divorced, or widowed), and menopausal status (p < .05). All the variables considered in the model accounted for 21.5% of the total variance in depressive symptoms (F=3.318, p< .001).

Conclusions: The study results indicated that certain groups of Korean midlife women with specific characteristics (e.g., low income, divorced, peri-menopausal, etc.) were more vulnerable to depressive symptoms. Therefore, future development of interventions to promote mental health should target high risk groups of women with specific characteristics. However, further international collaborative studies are needed to confirm the characteristics of midlife women that make them more vulnerable to depression.