Elder abuse: Systematic review and implications for practice
Publication Date: 06/01/2015
This article is based on the lecture for the 2014 American Geriatrics Society Outstanding Scientific Achievement for Clinical Investigation Award. Elder abuse is a global public health and human rights problem. Evidence suggests that elder abuse is prevalent, predictable, costly, and sometimes fatal. This review will highlight the global epidemiology of elder abuse in terms of its prevalence, risk factors, and consequences in community populations. The global literature in PubMed, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, BIOSIS, Science Direct, and Cochrane Central was searched. Search terms included elder abuse, elder mistreatment, elder maltreatment, prevalence, incidence, risk factors, protective factors, outcomes, and consequences. Studies that existed only as abstracts, case series, or case reports or recruited individuals younger than 60; qualitative studies; and non-English publications were excluded. Tables and figures were created to highlight the findings: the most-detailed analyses to date of the prevalence of elder abuse according to continent, risk and protective factors, graphic presentation of odds ratios and confidence intervals for major risk factors, consequences, and practical suggestions for health professionals in addressing elder abuse. Elder abuse is common in community-dwelling older adults, especially minority older adults. This review identifies important knowledge gaps, such as a lack of consistency in definitions of elder abuse; insufficient research with regard to screening; and etiological, intervention, and prevention research. Concerted efforts from researchers, community organizations, healthcare and legal professionals, social service providers, and policy-makers should be promoted to address the global problem of elder abuse.