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December 9, 1988

Abuse of Elders: Physicians Are Confused

Author Affiliations

University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Alabama Tuscaloosa

University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Alabama Tuscaloosa

JAMA. 1988;260(22):3276. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410220060018

To the Editor.—  In 1976, Alabama passed a statute (the Adult Protective Services Act) to prohibit the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of adults and mandate the reporting of mistreatment. Alabama focused its mandatory reporting requirements on all "practitioners of the healing arts." To evaluate the efficacy of the statute, the Center for the Study of Aging at the University of Alabama conducted in July 1987 a three-wave mail survey of Alabama physicians to assess their knowledge of the law and their responses to elder abuse. The random sample consisted of 336 internists, family practitioners, and general practitioners in Alabama stratified by specialty and city size. The response rate was 46%. The physicians responded to a series of statements concerning abuse using a five-point Likert scale ranging from "definitely not true" to "definitely true."The results show that after 12 years, Alabama physicians are confused about the law and about the