Self-Esteem and Depression in a Taiwanese Population: A Meta-Analysis

Article excerpt

In the Global Burden of Disease, Ayuso-Mateos (2000) reported that depressive disorders have the fourth highest financial burden among all diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO, 2001) also claimed that, if current trends in demographic and epidemiological transitions continue, by 2020 depression will be second only to ischemic heart disease as the leading cause of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) lost. The DALY is a health gap measure, which combines information on the impact of premature death and of disability and other nonfatal health outcomes. The John Tung Foundation (2011) distributed a depression questionnaire to a random sample of 5,056 students enrolled in various junior high, senior high, and vocational high schools located in the five largest cities of Taiwan. The data showed that these students, as a group, experienced depression. The survey results implied that there might exist a large number of students, among a total of 180,000 Taiwanese young learners at the high school level, who have suffered or are suffering from depression to some degree. The data collected in Taiwan and in other parts of the world suggest that depression is now a global phenomenon (WHO, 2001; John Tung Foundation, 2011).

Beck (1987) argued that, according to the cognitive theory of depression, negative self-evaluation is a proximal factor in individual depression. Moreover, Rosenberg (1979) said that self-esteem refers to self-perception and self-worth. Thus, self-esteem is a proximal factor in individual depression. The claim made by Leary, Schreindorfer, and Haupt (1995) that self-esteem has a strong correlation with depression has been confirmed in many studies. For example, Conley, Haines, Hilt, and Metalsky (2001) reported a significant negative correlation between self-esteem and depression (r = -.45) in a study of 8-year-olds. Burwell and Shirk (2006) similarly found a significant negative correlation between self-esteem and depression (r = -.63) in a study of 14-year-olds. The magnitude of the correlation, which ranged from r = -.45 to r = -.63, apparently correlated with age. Moreover, in a study of secondary school students Campbell (1997) found that the correlation was stronger in female students (r = -.62) than in male students (r = -.35). Similarly, Schafer, Wickrama, and Keith (1998) reported a stronger correlation coefficient between self-esteem and depression in married women (r = -.64) compared to that in married men (r = -.40). Dixon and Robinson Kurpius (2008) found a significant negative correlation between self-esteem and depression (r = -.58). In a study targeting adults aged from 58 to 64 years, Fernandez, Mutran, and Reitzs (1998) found a significant negative correlation between self-esteem and depression (r = -.45). Researchers who have focused on specific groups include Courtney, Gamboz, and Johnson (2008), who studied the correlation between self-esteem and depression in 197 teenagers with eating disorders. They found that low self-esteem had a significant positive correlation with depression (r = .20). Crockenberg and Leerkes (2003) addressed the same issue but focused specifically on a population of pregnant women. Again, self-esteem had a significant negative correlation with depression (r = -.65). Because of the widely varying reports regarding the strength of the

correlation between self-esteem and depression, we performed a meta-analysis to clarify the correlation.

In a study of junior high school students conducted in Taiwan, Wang (2009) reported a significant negative correlation between self-esteem and depression (r = -.45). Gao and Lin (2008) similarly reported a negative correlation (r = -.60) between self-esteem and depression in a study of high school students. In other studies of high school or college students conducted in Taiwan similar findings have been reported (Su, 2005; Yang, 1996). For example, Wu, Lu, and Tung (2009) claimed that college students' self-esteem had a direct impact on their depressive mood. …