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Volume 11 (2011), Pages 1017-1026
Research Article

The Moderating Role of Perceived Social Support on the Relationship between Physical Functional Impairment and Depressive Symptoms among Chinese Nursing Home Elderly in Hong Kong

1Department of Applied Social Studies, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
2Social Service Department, Yuen Yuen Institute, Hong Kong

Received 4 November 2010; Revised 24 March 2011; Accepted 28 March 2011

Academic Editor: John Weisz

Copyright © 2011 Sylvia Y. C. L. Kwok et al.


With reference to the stress-buffering model, this study aimed to examine the moderating role of perceived social support (including institutional peer support and family support) on the relationship between physical functional impairment, as a source of stress, and depressive symptoms among Chinese nursing home elderly in Hong Kong. The study used a cross-sectional survey method and convenience sampling. The subjects were recruited from two private nursing homes. A total of 187 elderly (54 males and 133 females) participated in the survey. Interviews were conducted by experienced research assistants. The Geriatric Depression Scale was used to assess depressive symptoms of each participant. Pearson correlational analyses showed that females reported more depressive symptoms than their male counterparts, and a positive relationship was found between education level and depressive symptoms. Perceived institutional peer support was negatively correlated, while physical functional impairment was positively correlated with depressive symptoms. However, there was no significant correlation between perceived family support and depressive symptoms. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that physical functional impairment and perceived institutional peer support were significant predictors of elderly depressive symptoms, while perceived family support was not a significant predictor, after statistically controlling for the influence of gender and education level. Perceived institutional peer support, but not perceived family support, was found to moderate the negative impact of physical functional impairment on elderly depressive symptoms. The theoretical and practical implications of this study were then discussed.