Contrasting perceptions of health professionals and older people in Australia: what constitutes elder abuse?

Abstract

OBJECTIVES To explore the perceptions of family carers, older people and health professionals in Australia about what constitutes elder abuse. METHODS The Caregiving Scenario Questionnaire (CSQ) was disseminated to health professionals from two metropolitan hospitals, older volunteers and carers of older people with dementia recruited for other studies. RESULTS One hundred and twenty health professionals, 361 older people and 89 carers returned the surveys. χ(2) analyses indicated that significantly more health professionals than older people identified locking someone in the house alone all day (χ(2) (2) = 10.20, p = 0.006, Cramer's V = 0.14), restraining someone in a chair (χ(2) (2) = 19.984, p = 0.0005, Cramer's V = 0.19) and hiding medication in food (χ(2) (2) = 8.72, p = 0.013, Cramer's V = 0.13) as abusive. There were no significant differences between healthy volunteer older people and carers in their perceptions of elder abuse. A significant minority (40.8%) of health professionals and over 50% of carers did not identify locking the care recipient alone in the house all day as abusive. CONCLUSION In Australia, there is limited consensus between older people, carers and health professionals regarding what constitutes elder abuse. Health professionals were more likely to identify abusive and potentially abusive strategies correctly than carers or healthy older people, but nonetheless between one quarter and two-fifths [correction made here after initial online publication] of health professionals did not identify the abusive strategies.

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