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Gerontologist. 2016 Aug;56(4):772-81. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnv052. Epub 2015 Aug 6.

Inside the Black Box: The Case Review Process of an Elder Abuse Forensic Center.

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School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences, Department of Social Work, Azusa Pacific University, California.
Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.



Preliminary evidence suggests that elder abuse forensic centers improve victim welfare by increasing necessary prosecutions and conservatorships and reducing the recurrence of protective service referrals. Center team members gather information and make decisions designed to protect clients and their assets, yet the collective process of how these case reviews are conducted remains unexamined. The purpose of this study is to present a model describing the interprofessional approach of investigation and response to financial exploitation (FE), a frequent and complex type of abuse of vulnerable adults.


To develop an understanding of the case review process at the Los Angeles County Elder Abuse Forensic Center (Center), a quasi-Delphi field study approach was used involving direct observations of meetings, surveying team members, and review from the Center's Advisory Council. The goal of this iterative analysis was to understand the case review process for suspected FE in Los Angeles County.


A process map of key forensic center elements was developed that may be useful for replication in other settings. The process map includes: (a) multidisciplinary data collection, (b) key decisions for consideration, and (c) strategic actions utilized by an interprofessional team focused on elder justice.


Elder justice relies on a complex system of providers. Elder abuse forensic centers provide a process designed to efficiently address client safety, client welfare, and protection of assets. Study findings provide a process map that may help other communities replicate an established multidisciplinary team, one experienced with justice system outcomes designed to protect FE victims.


Abuse/neglect; Elder justice; Financial exploitation; Forensic center; Interprofessional; Multidisciplinary team

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