Category Statistics

Elder abuse as a risk factor for psychological distress

Among those older persons who experienced some form of physical or emotional abuse or violence in the last month, the prevalence of psychological distress is [… ] higher than that in the general older population, at 61.6% (p<0.001).

 

Elder abuse as a risk factor for psychological distress among older adults in India: a cross-sectional study

Maria Evandrou, Jane C Falkingham, Min Qin, Athina Vlachantoni

Abstract

Objectives This study examines the association between elder abuse and psychological distress among older adults in India and explores whether this association varies by the level of psychosocial and material resources.

Design The study uses a cross-sectional survey design.

Setting The data are drawn from a representative sample of 9589 adults aged 60 and above in seven Indian states—Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu—in 2011.

Statistical analyses Secondary analysis, using bivariate and multivariate logistic regression models, is conducted using the United Nations Population Fund project Building Knowledge Base on Ageing in India survey. Elder abuse (physical and/or emotional) emanating from family members in the previous month before the survey is examined. Multivariate models are run on the total analytical sample and for men and women separately.

Results The overall prevalence of psychological distress among persons aged 60 and over living in the seven Indian States is 40.6%. Among those older persons who experienced some form of physical or emotional abuse or violence in the last month, the prevalence of psychological distress is much higher than that in the general older population, at 61.6% (p<0.001). The results show that the experience of abuse is negatively associated with the mental health of older adults, and this relationship persists even after controlling for demographic and socioeconomic factors (OR=1.60, 95% CI 1.22 to 2.09). The findings also suggest that household wealth has an inverse relationship with mental health, with the association between experiencing elder abuse and reporting poor mental health being strongest among older people in wealthy households.

Conclusions Elder abuse in India is currently a neglected phenomenon, and greater recognition of the link between abuse and mental health is critical to improve the well-being of vulnerable older adults, some of whom may be ‘hidden’ within well-off households.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017152

Strengths and limitations of this study

  • The findings of this study are from a large representative sample of 9692 older adults from selected Indian states.
  • Abuse data in this study are self-reported; there is no validation (or under-reporting) by agencies charged with investigating elder abuse.
  • It is possible that older people already had stress before the experience of abuse, and at the time of the interview were more likely than others to recall experiences such as abuse.

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ELDER ABUSE AS A RISK FACTOR FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS AMONG OLDER ADULTS IN INDIA: A CROSS-SECTIONAL STUDY