Although Adult Protective Services (APS) is responsible for investigating and intervening in cases of abuse, relatively little research has been done to study physical abuse injuries among APS clients. The study sought to document the spectrum of injuries observed among older adult victims of physical elder abuse presenting to APS and identify forensic markers of physical abuse, which can be used to distinguish these injuries from those of non-abusive origin.
This study used a case-control design to study the characteristics of injuries presenting among older adults who have been reported to Adult Protective Services (APS) for physical elder abuse and identify markers of abuse that differentiate these injuries from non-abusive trauma and injury.
Data were collected from 61 Adult Protective Services (APS) clients aged 65 years of age or older who had been reported to APS for allegations of physical abuse, where the physically abusive incident was within the past 21 days. Eligible study subjects also needed to speak English or Spanish or have an appropriate interpreter available who was not suspected of having previously or currently abused the client. Potential subjects were, whenever possible introduced to the research nurse by the APS worker assigned to their case; where that was not possible, the individual's information was provided to the research team and the potential subjects were contacted directly. During the study period, all cases of physical elder abuse reported in Los Angeles County were forwarded to the research team for consideration and potential recruitment.
Control group data were collected from a sample of 164 demographically similar, non-abused older adults aged 65 and older receiving routine medical care from a Geriatrics Outpatient Clinic. Potential subjects were approached in the clinic's waiting room. Subjects were required to speak English or Spanish or have an appropriate interpreter available who was not suspected of abusing the subject. Control subjects were also screened for lifetime incidence of family violence, including child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, and elder mistreatment. Potential subjects were excluded from participation if they had experienced elder mistreatment, which was defined as any form of mistreatment experienced after reaching age 65.
The subject-level dataset includes data from all study subjects. The injury-level dataset includes recent, non-medically-caused injuries present during physical examination of study subjects. Scars were excluded from the dataset. Injuries or physical findings attributable to medical conditions or medical interventions (e.g. surgery, vaccination, blood draws), were excluded from the dataset.
Study Group: Adults aged 65 and older in Los Angeles County who were referred to Adult Protective Services (APS) due to suspicions of physical elder abuse.
Comparison group: Adults aged 65 and older receiving services from a geriatrics outpatient clinic in Los Angeles County.
The data in this collection include variables related to older adult sociodemographic characteristics, functional ability, fall risk, medical history, medication usage, and physical, cognitive, and mental health status.
Several Likert-type scales were used.