Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Christine Fiore, PhD

Committee Co-chair

Gyda Swaney, PhD

Commitee Members

Laurie Walker, PhD


Native American, Depression, Protective Factors


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


Research of depression in Native American older adults and elderly has been limited. The research that has been done has typically fallen into three domains: exploring the frequency of depression (Carleton et al., 2013), identifying or developing culturally competent measurement tools (Ackerson, Dick, Manson, & Beals, 2018), and determining the protective factors that reduce the effects of depressions. More specifically, Kaufman et al. (2013) found that spirituality was beneficial in reducing depression; however, this varied by tribe within their sample. Whitbeck et al. (2002) found that perceived social support among elderly Native Americans was a protective factor for the individuals displaying depressive symptoms. The study is a secondary analysis of a qualitative data set of a larger study which focused on community-based participatory research, Resiliency in Native American Older Adults (Wallace & Swaney, 2006). The study examined 11 archival interviews (8 females and 3 males) with older adult and elderly Native Americans from the Northwest. The participants were from 50-79 years with a mean age of 62 years. The interviews were analyzed using a qualitative methodology, specifically a Grounded Theory approach. My research questions include: a) Do Native American older adults and elderly discuss symptoms of depression? b) If so, how do they discuss symptoms of depression? c) Additionally, if they report experiencing symptoms of depression do they report experiencing suicidal thoughts? d) If they report depressive symptoms, including suicidal thoughts, do they also identify any protective factors that may reduce the effects of depressive symptoms? Several participants indicated having some symptoms of depression; however, the number of symptoms that they discussed varied among each participant. The depressive symptoms that participants discussed identified included depressed mood, fatigue, difficulty in sleeping, suicidal ideation, lack of concentration, overeating and these symptoms mapped well onto the DSM 5 diagnosis of MDD. The core categories that were identified within protective factors included, culture, social support, and self-regulation. In conclusion, the research examining depression and protective factors among these individuals was beneficial to understanding what older adults have experienced, how they managed, and what they described helped them through difficult times. Despite the presence of many challenges evidenced in the interview transcripts, descriptions provided numerous examples of resilience throughout commentary.



© Copyright 2019 Kristen K. Pyke