Increased Rates of Hospitalization Linked to Elder Abuse, Rush Researchers Find
First Study to Examine Relationship Between Elder Abuse and Health Services Utilization
Older adults who are subject to elder abuse, neglect and exploitation face a greater risk of being hospitalized than other seniors, according to results of a study published in the April 8 online issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.
“Elder abuse is independently associated with increased mortality risk, especially for cardiovascular-related mortality. However, the relationship between elder abuse and health services utilization still remains unclear,” said XinQi Dong, MD, a researcher and geriatrician at Rush University Medical Center and the study’s lead author. “Despite recent advances in our knowledge of elder abuse, we do not know the rate of health care services utilization among those who are victimized.”
“Hospitalization is a significant contributor to the rapidly increasing cost in our health care system,” Dong said. “Older adult victims may be put often in situations that could threaten their health and safety, which further increase their likelihood to be more frequently admitted into the hospital. However, we are not aware of any population-based study that has examined the prospective association between elder abuse and the rate of hospitalization in a community-dwelling population.”
Researchers found that the psychological abuse rate ratio (2.22), financial exploitation (1.75), caregiver neglect (2.43), and two more types of elder abuse (2.59) were independently associated with increased rates of hospitalization.
The mean age of those with reported elder abuse was 72.9 years. Those with reported elder abuse were more likely to be women (72 percent), black older adults (89 percent) and have lower levels of education and income.
“Elder abuse is a serious, common and under-recognized public health and human rights issue,” Dong said.
According to Dong, the field of elder abuse is estimated to have lagged more than 20 years behind that of child abuse or intimate partner violence.
It is estimated that one out of 10 older adults experience some forms of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation in the United States each year.
“Given the soaring cost of health care in this country, the results my help health care providers focus on clinical screening, prevention and intervention of elder abuse cases in order to devise targeted strategies to reduce unnecessary utilization of health services,” Dong said.
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