Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Social Work

Major Professor

Rodney Ellis

Committee Members

Sherry Cummings, Cindy Davis, Samuel MacMaster


The purpose of this study was to explore the prevalence of depressive symptoms among the elderly Kurdish immigrant and refugee population living in the greater Nashville, Tennessee area. Nashville has the largest population of Kurds living outside of Kurdistan (Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, 2004), but as is the case for many immigrant and refugee groups, little empirical research exists to aid social service practitioners in addressing the unique needs of this population (Williams & Westermeyer, n.d.). The investigator draws on the limited research about mental health in other immigrant and refugee populations as a basis for the rationale and design of the proposed study. Using a nonrandom sample of Kurds aged 50 or over living in metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County, the study collected information about participant demographics and measured depressive symptoms using oral administrations of the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) (Brink et al., 1997) and the Migratory Grief and Loss Questionnaire (MGLQ) (Casado & Leung, 2001). A significant minority of the study sample tested within the range of mild depression, and an additional one-quarter had scores placing them in the range for severe depression. There was a significant but limited correlation between GDS scores and total scores on the MGLQ. Further analysis, however, revealed a slightly stronger correlation between GDS scores and the MGLQ subscale of disorganization. Female subjects’ depression and grief scores were consistently higher than males, regardless of the scale or subscale used. Composite English scores revealed low proficiency within the sample, with no significant differences between males and females. Results indicated a significant negative correlation between composite English scores and total scores on the GDS, the MGLQ, and the MGLQ disorganization subscale. Due to the nonrandom sample and other study limitations, it would be inappropriate to generalize the results too broadly across the Kurdish immigrant and refugee population. The information gathered, however, will serve as a glimpse into the needs of this unique population and assist social service providers as they develop programs to most effectively meet the population’s needs.

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