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Int Psychogeriatr. 2017 Feb;29(2):269-279. doi: 10.1017/S1041610216001721. Epub 2016 Oct 20.

Mental health literacy as a mediator in use of mental health services among older korean adults.

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Graduate School of East-West Medical Science,Kyung Hee University,Gyeonggi-Do,South Korea.
Department of Pharmaceutical Care and Health Systems,College of Pharmacy,University of Minnesota,Twin Cities,MN,USA.
School of Social Work,College of Education and Human Development,University of Minnesota,Twin Cities,MN,USA.
Department of Social Welfare,Pusan National University,Busan,South Korea.



Existing literature suggests that mental health literacy is positively associated with mental health services utilization. Despite an aging population that faces significant mental health concerns in Korea, the role of mental health literacy on mental health services utilization is not known among older adults in Korea. This study aimed to (1) identify whether mental health literacy mediates the association between population characteristics and mental health services utilization and (2) identify an optimal path model for mental health services utilization among Korean older adults.


Using a cross-sectional survey with a quota sampling strategy, we collected and analyzed responses from 596 community-dwelling individuals ages 65 years and older. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) to estimate the effect of mental health literacy as a mediator.


When controlling for other relevant covariates in the optimal path model, mental health literacy mediated the relationships between three socio-demographic factors (education, general literacy, and health status) and mental health services utilization. The model fit index shows that the SEM fits very well (CFI = 0.92, NFI = 0.90, RMSEA = 0.07).


Efforts to improve mental health literacy through community-based education programs may need to particularly target Korean older adults with the relevant socio-demographic characteristics to enhance their utilization of appropriate mental health services.


Korean; health literacy; mental health; mental health literacy; older adults; service utilization

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