Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


College of Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Miriam Johnson


This cross-sectional, cross-cultural, and quantitative study examined the association between coping strategies and psychological quality of life (QOL), considering optimism among three ethnic female older adult groups. A total of 373 community-dwelling female older adults over age 65, including 124 White Americans, 124 Korean Americans and 125 African Americans residing in Columbia, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia in the United States completed the questionnaire via face-to face interview.

Factorial ANOVA regarding race and coping strategies revealed that religion was the most frequent coping strategy among all ethnic groups. White Americans and Korean Americans frequently used problem-focused copings (e.g., active coping and planning) and adaptive emotional-focused copings (e.g., positive reframing and acceptance), while African Americans employed adaptive emotional-focused copings and avoidant copings (e.g., self-distraction and venting). Eight coping strategies (e.g., active coping, planning, positive reframing, religion, denial, venting, behavioral disengagement, and self-blame) were significantly related to optimism (p

Regarding race and quality of life, five QOL subscales (e.g., QOL life enjoyment, QOL life meaning, QOL bodily appearance, QOL self-satisfaction, and QOL sum) were significantly different (p < .001). African Americans had the highest QOL mean score in the five subscales, followed by White Americans and Korean Americans. Relating optimism to quality of life, all QOL subscales were significantly (p

Multiple regression analysis demonstrated that sufficient income and optimism were commonly important for the QOL of female older adults. Each ethnic group reported different coping strategies, which impacted their QOL differently. For White Americans, social support, education, acceptance, and venting were related to their QOL. For Korean Americans, living arrangements, being a caregiver, planning, and self-blame were associated with their QOL. For African Americans, living arrangements, humor, behavior-disengagement, and self-blame were associated with their QOL.

These findings suggest that social work practitioners need to understand protective coping among female older adults in different ethnic groups to help them improve their quality of life.


© 2010, HeeSoon Lee