Cultural variation in temporal associations among somatic complaints, anxiety, and depressive symptoms in adolescence

Jacqueline H.J. Kim, William Tsai, Tamar Kodish, Lam T. Trung, Anna S. Lau, Bahr Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Different domains of internalizing symptoms (somatic, anxiety, depressive) often occur concurrently, suggesting that they may share common etiology. In longitudinal analyses of internalizing among youth, anxiety is often found to precede depression. However, relatively few studies have also assessed how somatic problems, the third symptom domain, are involved in longitudinal patterns of internalizing. In addition, temporal relations among internalizing symptom domains may vary by cultural group as somatic symptoms are posited to be a more culturally-normative way of communicating or experiencing distress in non-Western, interdependent cultures. Thus, the present study examined longitudinal relations among these three internalizing symptom domains in three ethnocultural adolescent samples. Methods: 304 European American, 420 Vietnamese American, and 717 Vietnamese adolescents' self-reported internalizing symptoms (somatic, anxiety, depressive) were assessed at three time points, spaced three months apart, using multigroup cross-lagged path analysis. Results: Anxiety symptoms consistently predicted increases in depressive symptoms in European American adolescents. In contrast, for Vietnamese and Vietnamese American adolescents, the most consistent relation was with somatic complaints predicting increases in anxiety. Anxiety and depressive symptoms bidirectionally predicted each other among the Vietnamese and Vietnamese American adolescents. Conclusions: Cultural group differences were evident in the temporal course of internalizing symptoms. The pattern of results have implications for culturally relevant intervention targets, during a developmental period of risk for internalizing disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109763
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • Adolescents
  • Asian
  • Culture
  • Depressive
  • Internalizing
  • Somatic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Cultural variation in temporal associations among somatic complaints, anxiety, and depressive symptoms in adolescence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this