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Elder abuse prevalence and risk factors: findings from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging

Abstract

Elder abuse (EA) is a pervasive problem with serious consequences. Previous population-based EA risk factor research has largely used cross-sectional designs that limit causal inferences, or agency records to identify victims, which threatens external validity. Based on a national, prospective, population-based cohort sample of older adults (n = 23,468) over a 3-year period from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, the current study sought to estimate the prevalence of EA and identify risk and protective factors. Past-year prevalence of any EA was 10.0%. Older adults with greater vulnerability related to physical, cognitive and mental health, childhood maltreatment and shared living were at higher EA risk, while social support was protective against EA. Older adults identifying as Black or reporting financial need were at heightened EA risk. This longitudinal, population-based study advances our understanding of EA risk/protective factors across several domains and informs the development of EA prevention strategies.

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Data availability

Please note that due to privacy and ethical/legal issues for the CLSA participants, data are only available from the CLSA (https://www.clsa-elcv.ca/) for researchers who meet the criteria for access to de-identified CLSA data.

Code availability

Custom code or mathematical algorithms were not used in the current study. However, please see Supplementary Information Appendix A for the SPSS-generated syntax underlying the analyses in this study.

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Acknowledgements

This research was made possible using the data/biospecimens collected by the CLSA. Funding for the CLSA is provided by the Government of Canada through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research under grant reference LSA 94473 and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, as well as the provinces of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. This research was conducted using the CLSA Baseline Tracking Dataset version 3.5, Comprehensive Dataset version 4.1, Follow-up 1 Tracking Dataset version 2.1, Comprehensive Dataset version 3.0 under application ID 1906012. The CLSA is led by P. Raina, C. Wolfson and S. Kirkland. The opinions expressed in this paper are the authors’ own and do not reflect the views of the CLSA. This project received funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada (4500415616, to D.B.). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

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D.B. was involved in study conceptualization, data cleaning, data analysis, findings interpretation and manuscript writing/editing. K.P., T.R. and M.S.L. were involved in study conceptualization, findings interpretation and manuscript writing/editing. L.M. was involved in study instrument development, findings interpretation and manuscript writing/editing.

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Correspondence to David Burnes.

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Nature Aging thanks Ronald (E) Acierno, Kathleen Wilber, and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Table 1 and SPSS data analysis code

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Burnes, D., Pillemer, K., Rosen, T. et al. Elder abuse prevalence and risk factors: findings from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging. Nat Aging 2, 784–795 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43587-022-00280-2

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