Author(s): Dong X, Simon MA
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Elder mistreatment (EM) is a pervasive global health issue and a violation of basic human rights. Our prior study indicates that EM is alarmingly common in an urban Chinese population, yet little is known about risk and/or protective factors for EM. OBJECTIVE: This study's goal was to examine the association of social support with the risk of EM and underlying hypothesis is that greater social support is associated with a lower risk for EM. METHODS: A cross-sectional descriptive study was performed in a major urban medical center in Nanjing, China. A total of 412 subjects aged 60 years or older who presented to the general medical clinic were surveyed. Social support was assessed using validated instruments Social Support Index (SSI); direct questions were asked about their mistreatment since age 60 using the modified Vulnerability to Abuse Screening Scale (VASS). RESULTS: EM was found in 35\% of the participants. After adjusting for potential confounding factors, several factors were associated with a lower risk of mistreatment: having someone to listen to and talk to (OR = 0.18, 95\% CI, 0.08-0.39), having someone to get you good advice from (OR = 0.15 (0.07-0.34)), having someone to show love and affection to (OR = 0.30 (0.12-0.75)), having someone available who can help with daily chores (OR = 0.43 (0.22-0.85)), having contact with someone they can trust and confide in (OR = 0.08 (0.03-0.23)), and having someone they can count on for emotional support (OR = 0.11 (0.04-0.28)). Regarding total social support scores (range 1-32), every point higher in social support was associated with a 6\% lower risk for EM (OR = 0.94 (0.91-0.97)). Greater social support was associated with a 59\% lower risk for EM (OR = 0.41 (0.19-0.90)). CONCLUSION: Greater social support may be a protective factor against EM in this population. Prospective studies are needed to confirm this finding. Interventions that improve social support may prevent EM. (c) 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel.
This article was published in Gerontology
and referenced in Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research