Recommendations for Understanding Incidence and Risk of Elder Mistreatment

Recommendations for Understanding Incidence and Risk of Elder Mistreatment
Date: August 30, 2021
Media Contact: Nicole Swenarton

New article suggests areas of research to better understand risk factors of and protection against elder mistreatment.

More studies are needed in community and health care settings to improve understanding of elder mistreatment risk factors and prevention, clinical management and policy formulation, according to commentary coauthored by XinQi Dong, director of the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research (IHHCPAR) and the inaugural Henry Rutgers Distinguished Professor of Population Health Sciences.

Understanding incidence is the most rigorous way to understand causality and risk associated with elder mistreatment. The article, published on JAMA Network Open, evaluated existing data from the New York State Elder Mistreatment Prevalence Study and the Population-Based Study of Chinese Elderly to set an agenda for future research on incidence of elder mistreatment.

Dong, a leading population health epidemiologist and geriatrician focused on violence prevention, elder justice and healthy aging, notes elder mistreatment is particularly understudied in diverse populations.

“With the rapid growth of diverse populations in the United States, multiple prior studies suggest that elder mistreatment prevalence is higher in historically marginalized populations,” Dong said. “Improving understanding of factors associated with risk of elder mistreatment and factors associated with protection against elder mistreatment could help to inform best strategies for screening, treatment and prevention efforts.”

Recommended areas of research outlined in the article include:

  • Examine elder mistreatment incidence across racial and ethnic groups.
  • Consider the severity of elder mistreatment, as well as dynamic circumstances of elder mistreatment, where individuals can experience elder abuse at different times depending on circumstance.
  • Examine the impact of factors such as the relationship between those experiencing elder mistreatment and the perpetrators and environmental factors on mediating and moderating mechanisms.
  • Use technology to assess elder mistreatment on a more frequent basis.
  • Look beyond the categorical and linear effects of the factors associated with risk and protection of elder mistreatment. For example, social isolation is associated with increased risk of elder mistreatment, but it is also associated with protection against physical, psychological and financial mistreatment.
  • Analyze how the occurrence of elder mistreatment is associated with the factors related to its risk and protection against it.

The article is coauthored by Mengting Li, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing.

If you suspect that abuse of a loved one has occurred or is occurring, relay your concerns to the local adult protective services, long-term care ombudsman or the police. For more information on elder abuse visit