Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2005, $438,054)
A 2003 National Research Council report decried the lack of scientifically rigorous research in the field of elder abuse. The report called for more information on how interventions affect the course of abuse and studies that use prospective designs to minimize victim forgetting and other problems inherent in retrospective designs.
The Police Foundation and the National Center for Victims of Crime propose to conduct research designed to respond to these concerns. The study would be conducted by the Police Foundation, a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of public safety and the National Center for Victims of Crime, the nation's leading resource and advocacy organization dedicated to serving individuals, families, and communities harmed by crime. The study will utilize a prospective longitudinal design to examine the course of abuse in both a community sample and a sample of persons who have used elder abuse services in Dane County, Wisconsin. The project team will conduct two sets of interviews with respondents six months apart to determine: (a) the proportion of cases in which abuse escalates, maintains, or desists; (b) which risk factors are associated with the onset of abuse and with its persistence over time; (c) which victims of elder abuse receive assistance from law enforcement and community service programs, which do not, and why; and (d) how reporting abuse to the police, criminal justice actions, and other protective measures taken by victims affect the course of abuse.
The results of the work will give police, criminal justice officials, and community service providers a better idea of which victims are at risk of continued abuse so they can better target services to those most in need. Results will also provide a better understanding of the reasons why elder abuse victims do not come forward to report abuse or seek help, and provide insights into how to reach these victims.