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Saturday, March 7 • 10:45am - 12:00pm
The importance of gender in examining depression and somatic symptoms among Chinese American and European American college students

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The topic of culture and depressive experience has attracted a large number of theoretical and clinical publications (e.g., Chentsova-Dutton & Tsai, 2009). Although depression has been found cross-culturally, the symptoms of major depression that are described by the DSM and measured by clinicians may not be equally culturally sensitive to depressive experience in all populations in the U.S. (Kalibatseva & Leong, 2011). Somatization refers to “complaints about, or the appearance of, physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach pains, inability to concentrate, chronic fatigue, sleep difficulties, loss of sensory functioning, and so on that have a strong psychological basis” (p. 348, Chun, Enomoto, & Sue, 1996). A common pattern that has been proposed in cross-cultural psychopathology is that people of Asian descent somatize psychological distress, and depression, in particular. This proposition has been mostly researched with Chinese, Chinese Americans, and Chinese Canadians. The current study investigated the relationship between culturally relevant factors, such as independence, interdependence, loss of face, and emotion regulation, and depression and physical symptoms among Chinese American and European American students. The study examined whether Chinese Americans report more somatic and depressive symptoms than European Americans and the role of gender as a moderator. The sample consisted of 521 participants from two large Midwestern universities. There were 205 (39.3%) participants who self-identified as Chinese American and 316 participants (60.7%) who self-identified as White or European American. An independent t-test revealed that European Americans reported higher scores than Chinese Americans in physical symptoms but not in depressive symptoms. A 2x2 ANOVA with gender and ethnicity as independent variables and somatic symptoms as a dependent variable revealed main effects for gender and ethnicity and an interaction. Post-hoc analyses showed that European American women reported the highest level of somatic symptoms. The importance of examining gender in cross-cultural phenomena is discussed.

Saturday March 7, 2015 10:45am - 12:00pm PST