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Original Investigation
May 20, 2019

Associations of Child Maltreatment and Intimate Partner Violence With Elder Abuse in a US Chinese Population

Author Affiliations
  • 1Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey
JAMA Intern Med. Published online May 20, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.0313
Key Points

Question  Are adults with a history of child maltreatment and/or intimate partner violence at higher odds of experiencing elder abuse?

Findings  In a cross-sectional study of 3157 US Chinese older adults in Chicago, Illinois, individuals with a history of child maltreatment had 2 times higher odds of experiencing intimate partner violence and elder abuse, and those who had experienced intimate partner violence had 6 times higher odds of experiencing elder abuse.

Meaning  Health care professionals should be more aware of the possibility of abuse when a patient has a known history of exposure to violence and consider the cumulative effect of violence among those experiencing elder abuse.

Abstract

Importance  People who have experienced abuse as a child or violence with an intimate partner might have higher odds of being abused again, but this has been insufficiently investigated regarding elder abuse. More conclusive evidence might be critical to assessment and prevention strategies.

Objective  To examine the associations of child maltreatment and intimate partner violence with elder abuse.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Cross-sectional data of 3157 community-dwelling US Chinese older adults (60 years or older) in Chicago, Illinois, were collected during 2011 through 2013.

Exposures  Cases of child maltreatment and intimate partner violence.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Cases of elder abuse.

Results  Of the 3157 US Chinese older adults included in the study, 1328 (42.1%) were men, and the mean (SD) age was 72.8 (8.3) years. The prevalence of elder abuse, child maltreatment, and intimate partner violence in the cohort was 15.2%, 11.4%, and 6.5%, respectively. After adjusting for sociodemographic variables, health status, quality of life, and health change, individuals reporting child maltreatment had increased odds of intimate partner violence (13.4% vs 5.6%; adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.57; 95% CI, 1.78-3.71) and elder abuse (25.2% vs 13.8%; aOR, 2.08; 95% CI, 1.57-2.75) than those not reporting child maltreatment. Individuals reporting intimate partner violence had increased odds of elder abuse than those not reporting intimate partner violence (48.8% vs 12.9%; aOR, 5.53; 95% CI, 4.01-7.64).

Conclusions and Relevance  Prior abuse across major lifespan stages is associated with higher odds of elder abuse. Health care professionals should be more aware of the possibility of abuse when there is a known history of violence in a patient and consider the cumulative effect of violence among those exposed to elder abuse.

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