Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Sport Participation, Acculturative Stress, and Depressive Symptoms among International College Students in the United States
by Yim, Hyosoon, M.S., The Florida State University, 2020, 125; 28001506
Abstract (Summary)

As the number of international college students has increased dramatically since the 2000s (U.S. Mission Nigeria, 2018), depressive symptoms among this group have become a crucial issue in the United States. Notably, it is widely accepted that international college students are more vulnerable to depressive symptoms than their domestic peers (Krämer et al., 2004; Mori, 2000; Yeh & Inose, 2003). A number of researchers suggest that acculturative stress is one of the most influential factors of this phenomenon (Constantine, Okazaki, & Utsey, 2004; Hamamura & Laird, 2014; Rice et al., 2012; Wei et al., 2007; Wilton & Constantine, 2003; Ying & Han, 2006; Zhang, 2012; Zhang & Goodson, 2011). Acculturative stress is a unique stress caused by the adaptation process of immigrants, such as homesickness or perceived discrimination (Berry, 1997). Acculturative stress buffers the adaptation of international students, leading to a variety of concerns and causes mental problems such as interpersonal problems (Nicholson, 1997), perceived discrimination (Aroian et al., 1998), and feelings of marginalization and depressive symptoms (Hwang & Ting, 2008).

Previous researchers have examined international students' financial (Kono et al., 2015; Meghani & Harvey, 2016), sociocultural (Cruwys et al., 2013), and linguistic barriers (Belizaire & Fuertes, 2011; Mori, 2000; Yeh and Inose, 2003) that can cause acculturative stress, resulting in a higher level of depressive symptoms. Physical activity has been regarded to be one of the best options as a means to reduce stress derived from such challenges (Carek, Laibstain, & Carek, 2011; Dunn, Trivedi, & Kampert, 2005; Dunn, Trivedi, & O’Neal, 2001; Lawlor & Hopker, 2001; Sale, Guppy, & El-Sayed, 2000). Despite the distinctive social nature of sport to promote the adaptation of immigrants in the new society (Lee & Funk, 2010; Lee et al., 2019; Stodolska & Alexandris, 2004), many scholars defined and measured sport participation in the same manner as unorganized exercise or leisure.

Considering not only the physical (Herring, 2010; Lee et al., 2012) and psychological (Carek, Laibstain, & Carek, 2011; Dunn, Trivedi, & Kampert, 2005; Dunn, Trivedi, & O’Neal, 2001) benefits but also the unique social nature (Krouwel et al., 2006; Miller & Hoffman, 2009) of sport participation, I examined sport participation as a means to alleviate acculturative stress and depressive symptoms among international college students based on the theoretical framework of the Integrative Model of Acculturation and Salutogenesis. To achieve the research purpose, I investigated a total of 203 international college students in the United States. Participants completed a questionnaire distributed via the crowdsourcing platform - Prolific.

The following steps were included in the data analysis: (1) assessing the correlation between sport participation, acculturative stress, and depressive symptoms; and (2) measuring the indirect effect of sport participation on depressive symptoms through acculturative stress by conducting a regression analysis using PROCESS macro (Model 4) developed by Preacher and Hayes (2008).

The results provided evidence that sport participation was significantly and negatively associated with depressive symptoms. Also, acculturative stress was significantly and positively associated with depressive symptoms. On the other hand, sport participation was not significantly associated with acculturative stress. Finally, acculturative stress did not mediate the relationship between sport participation and depressive symptoms.

This study is significant both at the university and society levels. At the university level, findings from this research should provide practical implications to further strategic plans to address one of the fastest-growing phenomena in the United States. Specifically, based on the findings of the current study, universities may be able to create an agenda regarding the promotion and implementation of appropriate sport delivery systems which can enhance their international students’ mental wellbeing. At a society level, the findings of this research could be extended to positively impact the general immigrant population in the United States, which represents 28% of the total U.S. population. Considering an international student is one type of immigrant, the current study will be a stepping stone to promote public health by encouraging a healthy lifestyle among diverse members of society through sport involvement.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kim, Amy C.H.
Commitee: Du, James W., James, Jeffrey D.
School: The Florida State University
Department: Sport and Recreation Management
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: MAI 82/3(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Sports Management, Health care management, Public health
Keywords: Acculturation, Acculturative stress, Depressive symptoms, International college student, International student, Sport participation
Publication Number: 28001506
ISBN: 9798664797190
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