Purpose: This study examined relationships among stress, stress coping strategies, and somatization in mothers-in-law from multi-cultural families in a rural area. Methods: Elderly mothers-in-law (n=227) living with foreign daughters-in-law completed a self-reporting questionnaire. Data were collected from April to August 2009. Questions related to stress (Visual Analog Scale, VAS), coping strategies (Coping Strategy Scale) for stress, and somatization (Symptom Check List 90, Revised). SPSS/WIN 12.0 program was used for descriptive analysis, t-test, one-way ANOVA, Pearson correlation, and multiple regression analyses. Results: Subjects had a moderate level of stress (5.03). There were significant differences in stress level according to age, educational level, religion, chronic disease, health status, number of children, agreement of an international marriage of her sons, satisfaction in living with a foreign daughter-in-law, and family conflict. Stress showed a significant positive correlation with offensive coping strategy, passive strategy, and somatization. Stress, offensive coping strategy, and passive coping strategy affected the level of somatization. Conclusion: In a family situation involving co-habitation of mother- and foreign daughter-in-law, increased stress experienced by the mother-in-law can lead to increased offensive and passive coping strategies, and increased somatization. More effective means of stress reduction are needed for mothers-in-law from multi-cultural families.
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