Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2006, $304,300)
The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that 92% of financial abuse victims are elderly women and the most vulnerable group are those over 80. Financial exploitation and psychological abuse of elderly individuals (60 years of age or older) are hidden and pervasive problems that are not well conceptualized nor well measured. In fact, measurements of financial exploitation and psychological abuse are usually not even attempted. There is an urgent need for research that informs efforts to protect vulnerable populations from impoverishment resulting from financial exploitation as well as from the suffering engendered by psychological abuse. The assessment of these two crucial issues may open the door to detection of even more hidden areas such as physical and sexual abuse. The first objective of this research is to develop definitions and measures to be used in screening and detecting financial exploitation and psychological abuse in older adults. The second objective is to field test financial exploitation and psychological abuse measures for the elderly. In Phase 1, the research team will use concept mapping to conceptualize and organize measure development for these two abuse constructs. Phase 2 of this project will be comprised of a feasibility study of a financial exploitation measure and of a psychological abuse measure based on the concept map and expert panel input. Phase 2 will consist of focus groups and cognitive interviews at ten community sites (e.g., senior centers and case coordination units) to develop procedures for obtaining sensitive information concerning financial exploitation and psychological abuse and to develop new items and refine existing items assessing these areas. Phase 3 will be a full-scale field test of the two abuse subcomponents, i.e., financial exploitation and psychological abuse, with data collection on 200 clients and with a subsequent psychometric analysis of the resulting data. The products will be: 1) conceptual frameworks for financial exploitation and psychological abuse of the elderly, 2) a set of procedures for obtaining sensitive information concerning financial exploitation and psychological abuse, and 3) two empirically tested abuse measures. These products should help to open this neglected area for improved services and research.