Cultural Context of Family Religiosity/Spirituality among Korean-American Elderly Families

  • Suk-Sun KimEmail author
  • Yeoun Soo Kim-Godwin


The purpose of this study is to explore the cultural context of family religiosity/spirituality among Korean-American elderly families, and how this changed after families immigrated to the USA. Fifty one first-generation Korean-Americans participated in one or two hour, in-depth interviews in Korean at a participant’s home or church. These included 27 older adults and 24 family members living together or within a radius of one-hour transit time from their elders, residing in the Southeastern United States. A thematic and interpretive method was used to analyze transcribed interviews. Three themes were identified that explained the cultural context of family religiosity/spirituality: (a) traditional family religious rituals, (b) church oriented routines, and (c) family collectivism. The participants did not distinguish ‘religiosity’ and ‘spirituality’ during the interviews. The findings suggest that the family religiosity/spirituality of the participants was influenced by the traditional family religious values, which were shaped by Korean culture. The traditional religions of Shamanism, Buddhism, and Confucianism are prevalent in Asian countries. Thus, the findings of this study may help healthcare professionals identify the cultural contexts of spirituality/religiosity of Asian immigrant families in order to provide holistic care.


Culture Family spirituality Korean Americans Older adults Spirituality, religiosity 



This study is a part of the postdoctoral fellow research of the first author from the Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health, Duke University Medical Center, which was funded by John Templeton Foundation. We gratefully acknowledge editing by Dr. Beverly Rosenthal and Dr. John Godwin.


This study was funded by John Templeton Foundation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicting Interest

The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship and publication of this article.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of NursingEwha Womans UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.School of Nursing, College of Health & Human ServicesUniversity of North Carolina WilmingtonWilmingtonUSA

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