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Eur J Public Health. 2019 Feb 1;29(1):58-67. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cky093.

The prevalence of elder abuse in institutional settings: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Author information

1
WHO Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen DR-2100, Denmark.
2
WHO Headquarters, Geneva 1202, Switzerland.

Abstract

Background:

A recent study has shown that close to one in six older adults have experienced elder abuse in a community setting in the past year. It is thought that abuse in institutions is just as prevalent. Few systematic evidence of the scale of the problem exists in elder care facilities. The aim of this review is to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the problem in institutional settings and to provide estimates of the prevalence of elder abuse in the past 12 months.

Methods:

Fourteen academic databases and other online platforms were systematically searched for studies on elder abuse. Additionally, 26 experts in the field were consulted to identify further studies. All studies were screened for inclusion criteria by two independent reviewers. Data were extracted, and meta-analysis was conducted. Self-reported data from older residents and staff were considered separately.

Results:

Nine studies met the inclusion criteria from an initial of 55 studies identified for review. Overall abuse estimates, based on staff reports, suggest that 64.2% of staff admitted to elder abuse in the past year. There were insufficient studies to calculate an overall prevalence estimate based on self-reported data from older residents. Prevalence estimates for abuse subtypes reported by older residents were highest for psychological abuse (33.4%), followed by physical (14.1%), financial (13.8%), neglect (11.6%), and sexual abuse (1.9%).

Conclusions:

The prevalence of elder abuse in institutions is high. Global action to improve surveillance and monitoring of institutional elder abuse is vital to inform policy action to prevent elder abuse.

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