Elder abuse victimization patterns: latent class analysis using perpetrators and abusive behaviours

Ana João Santos, Baltazar Nunes, Irina Kislaya, Ana Paula Gil, Oscar Ribeiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Research on elder abuse has defined it as a multidimensional construct that encompasses a set of different abusive behaviours, victims, perpetrators and settings. The array of possible elder abuse configurations is difficult to capture. This study sought to identify victimization patterns that represent distinct elder abuse configurations based on specific abusive behaviours and on the relationship with the perpetrator; it also sought to determine the association between these latent classes with victims' characteristics. Method: Data comes from two elder abuse surveys: a representative sample of community-dwelling adults and a convenience sample of older adults reporting elder abuse to four state and NGOs institutions. Latent Class Analysis (LCA) was used to categorize victimization in the population-based (N = 245) and in the victims' sample (N = 510) using 7 items measuring physical, psychological and financial abuse, and appointed perpetrators. Association tests were conducted to determine differences and similarities of victims' characteristics between the different obtained classes. Results: The LCA procedure identified six different latent classes of victimization experiences in each of the samples, which were statistically and plausibly distinct. In the population-based survey: verbal abuse by others (29%); psychological abuse from children/grandchildren (18%); overlooked by others (18%); stolen by others (15%); verbal Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) (14%) and physical and psychological IPV (6%). In the victims' survey: physical abuse by children/grandchildren (29%); physical IPV (26%); psychological abuse by children/grandchildren (18%); polyvictimization by others (16%); physical abuse by others (6%) and physical and psychological IPV (4%). In the victims survey the 6 groups significantly differ in age, gender, civil status, living arrangements, perceived social support and functional status. Conclusions: The results support the possibility of the multidimensionality of elder abuse not being accounted by the "classical" abuse typologies. Elder abuse victims seeking help may represent a distinct group from that included in population-based prevalence studies. The appointed perpetrators may be the most meaningful and relevant aspect in distinguishing victimization experiences. Further research is needed to develop tailored interventions to specific elder abuse cases and enhance successful outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2019


  • Elder abuse
  • Latent class analysis (LCA)
  • Perpetrators
  • Victimization


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