Financial abuse in elderly Korean immigrants: Mixed analysis of the role of culture on perception and help-seeking intention

Hee Yun Lee, Charissa K. Eaton

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40 Scopus citations


This study aims to evaluate how elderly Korean immigrants perceive and respond to a hypothetical incident of financial abuse on the basis of their cultural background. By using a quota sampling strategy, 124 elderly Korean immigrants were recruited. A mixed-method approach was employed to explore the role of culture on elderly immigrants' view of financial abuse and the construct of independent and interdependent self-construal was adopted to theoretically guide the study. Mixed-method analysis confirmed considerable influence of culture, particularly in responding to the abusive situation. Although the vast majority of the elders (92%) perceived financial abuse as elder mistreatment, only two-thirds (64%) intended to seek help. Five major themes for not seeking help were produced. These are: (a) issues related to family problems, (b) tolerance of the abuse, (c) shame, (d) victim blame, and (e) mistrust toward third party intervention. A series of binary logistic regressions revealed (a) a lower likelihood of seeking formal types of help with those who had higher level of adherence to traditional values and (b) the profile of vulnerable elderly Koreans who are at higher risk of being financially abused: Male and less educated. This article also discusses implications for social work practice and elder mistreatment policy, particularly focusing on how to work with elderly Korean immigrants who are vulnerable to this problem and who tend to use collectivistic cultural values in responding to financial abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-488
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Gerontological Social Work
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Received 13 June 2008; accepted 19 September 2008. This article is part of the first author’s doctoral dissertation. The dissertation research was funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation and the authors acknowledge the generosity of the foundation and its staff. Address correspondence to Hee Yun Lee, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, 105 Peters Hall, 1404 Gortner Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108. E-mail:


  • And independent and interdependent self-construal
  • Elder mistreatment
  • Elderly Korean immigrants
  • Financial abuse
  • Help-seeking behavior
  • Perception


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