Since within the elder abuse field research on the characteristics of the abusers is scant and no validated measure of abuser risk exists, the purpose of the current study was to develop and test the Abuser Risk Measure (ARM).
The Rasch measurement model and traditional psychometrics were used on a sample of 425 elder abuse cases that completed an elder abuse investigation and had a substantiation decision (yes/no). All had usable ARM responses that were obtained primarily from the alleged victim. ARM construct/criterion validity was tested against four types of elder abuse, using substantiation decision as the criterion. Item analyses guided the development of a full 21-item ARM measure and, subsequently, a short, 9-item screener. The 21-item ARM met the Rasch criteria. Although the screener was borderline on Rasch criteria, the combination of a good Cronbach’s alpha with strong criterion validation provided a rationale for endorsing its validity. Both versions of the ARM were significantly and most strongly predictive of physical and emotional abuse, and significant for financial exploitation. Although not significantly predictive of neglect alone, they were strongly and significantly predictive of total types of abuse. This study was innovative in developing abuser risk items, analyzing client data, and generally supporting ARM validity for elder abuse. Theoretically, and now empirically, it is becoming clear that measures of abuser risk have an important role to play in both case assessment and in research. (publisher abstract modified)