The purpose of this study was to measure for financial exploitation and psychological abuse of elderly individuals in community-based settings within the city of Chicago and its collar counties.
The research team developed two self-reporting questionnaires, the Older Adult Mistreatment Assessment (OAMA) Client Questionnaire and the OAMA Staff Questionnaire. The questionnaires measured both financial exploitation and psychological abuse of the elderly. Specifically, the OAMA client self-report measures of financial exploitation were administered via interview by elder abuse investigators to participants aged 60 years and over who had been substantiated for at least one form of elderly mistreatment. The 22 corresponding elder abuse investigators were trained by the research team at each of the 7 community sites participating in the full-scale field test. An investigator also completed a corresponding staff questionnaire for each client interview. In all, a total of 227 client interviews with 227 corresponding staff questionnaires were compiled between 2007 and 2008, and scales were developed for both measurements.
The OAMA measurement instrument was developed for both questionnaires in three phases:
- In Phase One the research team used concept mapping with input from 16 experts in the field to conceptualize and organize measure development for the two abuse constructs.
- Phase Two was comprised of a feasibility study of a financial exploitation measure and of a psychological abuse measure based on the concept map and expert panel input. It consisted of focus groups and cognitive interviews at community sites (e.g., senior centers and case coordination units) to develop procedures for obtaining sensitive information concerning financial exploitation and psychological abuse and to develop new items and refine existing items assessing these areas.
- Phase Three was a full-scale field test of the two abuse subcomponents, financial exploitation and psychological abuse. The field test consisted of data collection on 227 substantiated elder abuse clients and their 22 corresponding elder abuse investigators, with a subsequent psychometric analysis of the resulting client self-report data.
The self-reporting OAMA Staff Questionnaire was also administered during the field test, and completed by an investigator to accompany each of the completed client questionnaires. The staff questionnaire was used to record the investigators' observations and the responses of "3rd parties" or proxies. This assessment instrument also helped the research team validate corresponding measurements recorded in the OAMA Client Questionnaire.
Through a research agreement with the Illinois Department on Aging the research team conducted this project with the elder abuse providers in the state. The researchers recruited seven adult protective services agencies in Chicago and its collar counties. The client self-report measures of financial exploitation and psychological abuse were administered via interview to 227 clients who were previously substantiated by eldercare staff members for at least one type of elder mistreatment. Elderly patients were regarded as any adult aged 60 years and older. Each client self-report measure was accompanied by a corresponding staff self-report measure conducted by the evaluator and submitted with the client questionnaire.
All adults aged 60 years and older who are under the care of an adult protective services agency in Chicago and its collar counties between 2007 and 2008, and their corresponding elder abuse investigators.
Older Adult Mistreatment Assessment Client Questionnaire
Older Adult Mistreatment Assessment Staff Questionnaire
The study contains a total of 273 variables including 132 OAMA Client Questionnaire variables and 140 OAMA Staff Questionnaire variables. The OAMA Client Questionnaire variables include demographics, cognitive and mental capacities, financial exploitation measures, psychological abuse measures, and variables indicating the relationship of the elderly client to their primary trusted family member or friend. In addition to 12 variables on age, race, gender, personal finances, and the pre-questionnaire cognitive capacity of the client, the OAMA Client Questionnaire consisted of two primary measurement tools for financial exploitation and psychological abuse. First, the Older Adult Psychological Abuse Measure (OAPAM) contained 37 variables for measurements on suspected physical, psychological and medical abuse of the elderly client by their primary trusted family member or caretaker within the past year. The variables in OAPAM measured various forms of psychological abuse of the elderly, such as isolation, disrespect, exploiting vulnerability, shame, threats and intimidation, and risk factors related to the client's trusted friends or family. Second, the Older Adult Financial Exploitation Measure (OAFEM) contained 83 variables for measurements of various forms of suspected financial exploitation of the elderly client by their primary trusted family member or caretaker. The variables in OAFEM measured items including theft, scams, coercion, signs of abuse or financial entitlement by trusted friends or family members, and money management difficulties.
The OAMA Staff Questionnaire variables include investigator position, agency code, investigator years of experience, investigator gender and race, and variables indicating the relationship of their client to the primary trusted caretaker, as well as their client's pre-questionnaire cognitive and psychological capacity. The Staff Questionnaire also contained similarly structured OAPAM and OAFEM variable measurements for each client to those for the Client Quesitonnaire. However, measurements of variables for psychological abuse and financial exploitation within the Staff Questionnaire were designed to validate corresponding measurements recorded in the Client Questionnaire through evaluator response.
The response rates for the client sample was 99 percent. The response rates for the staff sample are not available.
Two scales were developed and employed in both data collection instruments, the Older Adult Financial Exploitation Measure (OAFEM) and the Older Adult Psychological Abuse Measure (OAPAM).