Academic journal article Journal of International Students

East Asian International Students and Psychological Well-Being: A Systematic Review

Academic journal article Journal of International Students

East Asian International Students and Psychological Well-Being: A Systematic Review

Article excerpt

Abstract

The present article reports a systematic review of the studies related to psychological well-being among East Asian international students. A total of 18 quantitative studies published in peer-reviewed journals from 2000 to 2011 were reviewed. Our review revealed three major results: (1) a majority of researchers (n=13, 72.2%) tend to choose Chinese international students as a representative of East Asian and Asian international students in their studies; (2) studies on psychological well-being of East Asian international students are closely associated with the following variables: length of stay in host country, English proficiency, attitudes toward seeking help, depression, and acculturation; (3) depression was the most frequently reported variable (n=6, 33.3%), followed by acculturation (n=5, 27.8%). Recommendations for further research in psychological well-being were provided.

Keywords: psychological well-being, East Asian international students.

Over the past six years, the growth in numbers of international students enrolled in U.S universities has been remarkable. Between 2006 and 2012, enrollment of international students has increased from 157,178 to 228,467, with an average rate of 8.2% per year (Institute of International Education, 2012a). Recent data show that in the 2011-2012 academic year, there were 764,495 international students studying on campuses in the United States (Institute of International Education, 2012a). Nearly 65% of international students are drawn from Asian countries such as China (25.4% of the total international student population), India (13.1%), South Korea (9.5%), Saudi Arabia (4.5%), Taiwan (3.0%), Japan (2.6%), and Vietnam (2.0%) (Institute of International Education, 2012a). Of Asian international students, 63% are from countries in East Asia (China, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, and Taiwan).

As the number of East Asian international students grows, the need for more ethnically sensitive and thorough study of this population becomes increasingly important. However, little scholarly literature provides a systematic review of the population, especially on their psychological well-being. Factors associated with a relative lack of research are multiple and complex. In terms of diversity and mobility, East Asian international students can be described as a group of people that consist of many different racial and ethnic groups (Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Korean). They usually stay in the host country for a short period of time to finish their degrees and then return to their country of origin (Bochner, 2006). Other factors, such as their perception of health and well-being, attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help, English proficiency, levels of acculturation, and racial and ethnic identity, have also been associated with psychological well-being in the literature but are less well studied. Accordingly, these factors have a negative impact on investigating psychological well-being among East Asian international students.

Numerous published studies have described factors related to psychological well-being among East Asian international students, but many have been small, with a monolithic sample, or purely qualitative in nature. Moreover, a majority of these studies focused on a small number of variables, such as acculturative stress (Nilsson, Butler, Shouse, & Joshi, 2008), depression (Wei, Heppner, Mallen, Ku, Liao, & Wu, 2007), cultural adjustments (Camalcilar & Falbo, 2008; Nilsson et al., 2008; Wang & Mallinckrodt, 2006), health and well-being (Rosenthal, Russell, & Thomson, 2008), racial/ethnic identity and Asian value (Iwamoto & Liu, 2010). Our research of relevant databases (e.g., Academic Search Complete and Psychological & Behavioral Sciences Collection) revealed that no systematic reviews have been published on how these factors, alone or in combination, can differentially affect psychological well-being among East Asian international students, nor have systematic reviews been conducted seeking to summarize what is known about psychological well-being associated with the group. …

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