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Prevalence and Correlates of Emotional, Physical, Sexual, and Financial Abuse and Potential Neglect in the United States: The National Elder Mistreatment Study

NCJ Number
American Journal of Public Health Volume: 100 Issue: 2 Dated: February 2010 Pages: 292-297
Date Published
February 2010
6 pages

This study examined the prevalence of emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse and potential neglect in older Americans.


Highlights from this study on the prevalence of elder abuse and neglect in the United States include the following: 11.4 percent of survey respondents reported experiencing at least one form of mistreatment in the past year; 4.6 percent had experienced some form of emotional abuse and 7.9 percent of these incidents had been reported to police; 1.6 percent had experienced some form of physical abuse and 31 percent of these incidents were reported to police; and sexual abuse was reported by 0.6 percent of respondents, with 16 percent of these incidents being reported to police. The study also found that the potential neglect was reported by 5.9 percent of respondents, while financial mistreatment perpetrated by family members was reported by 5.2 percent of respondents. Data for the study were obtained from a sample (n=5,777) of adults age 60 years or older that resulted from random-digit dialing across geographic strata. Statistical analyses were conducted to determine the effect that certain factors might have on the potential for abuse and neglect. These factors included income, employment status, health status, experience of previous traumatic events, social support, use of social services, and required assistance with daily activities. The analyses found that low social support significantly increased the risk of virtually all forms of mistreatment, while the experience of previous traumatic events increased the risk for emotional, sexual, and financial mistreatment. These findings suggest that elder abuse is a prevalent and significant problem in the United States. Study limitations and implications for policy are discussed. Tables and references

Date Published: February 1, 2010