Depressive symptoms of elderly Chinese in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Taipei

Wing Leung Lai

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Understanding the socio-cultural context is an important pre-requisite for understanding global aging and mental health. This study aimed to examine the variation in the types of depressive symptoms of aging Chinese in three ethnic Chinese societies. Method: Data were based on a mixed purposive and random sample of aging Chinese in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Taipei. The 891 Chinese participants of 65 years or older were included. Depressive symptoms were measured by a Chinese 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale. Factor analysis was used to identify the factor structure of the scale when used with elderly Chinese in the three cities. Results: There are 'within-ethnic group' differences in manifestation of depressive symptoms. Symptoms of the elderly Chinese in Guangzhou and Hong Kong were similarly related to items that indicate uncertainty and disinterest in living. The ones in Taipei expressed symptoms indicating disinterest and a negative mood. These differences were probably due to the variations in the socio-cultural, demographic, and structural characteristics among the three cities. Conclusion: Depressive symptoms can be culturally related and manifested differently by people sharing a similar ethnicity. The same ethnicity does not mean homogeneity. The findings should be useful for mental health practitioners in Western societies working with older Chinese immigrants. Knowing the mental health characteristics of these client groups will facilitate the designing of appropriate assessment and intervention tools to fit the culturally unique mental health needs of different subgroups in these ethno-cultural communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-735
Number of pages11
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • Cultural aspects
  • Depression
  • Mental health measures
  • Psychological and behavioral symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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