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A Global Response to Elder Abuse - page 10 / 149





10 / 149

1 Executive summary

  • e World Health Organization (WHO)

and the Center for Interdisciplinary Gerontology/University of Geneva (CIG/ UNIGE), in association with institutions in eight countries (Australia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Kenya, Singapore, Spain and Switzerland), formed a joint research programme aimed at tackling a substantial and yet hidden social problem: elder abuse and neglect. e foundations of the study were provided by the ground-breaking work conducted by a multidisciplinary and inter- institutional team from Montreal.

  • e project objectives are:

  • To develop and validate a reliable instru- ment applicable in different geographical and cultural contexts in order to increase awareness among PHC professionals to the problem of elder abuse and neglect.

  • To build the capacity of PHC workers to deal with elder abuse and neglect through evidence-based education for the develop- ment of prevention strategies.

  • e original project outline comprised the

development and validation of a universal routine screening tool to facilitate the detec- tion of elder abuse and neglect among PHC professionals. Consultations with experts and advisers during the initiation phase of the project, however, have indicated that it is critical to apply the concept of an elder abuse screening tool in the field of PHC; elder abuse involves psychosocial moments of stress not only for the patients but also for the PHC professionals, who are currently not equipped well enough with follow-up strate- gies. It was considered more appropriate


to ultimately develop a tool that helps raise awareness about the issue of elder mistreat- ment among the PHC professionals and sen- sitizes them in dealing with potential abuse cases. erefore, the goal of the WHO-CIG study is to provide an instrument to detect suspicions of elder abuse modelled on the Elder Abuse Suspicion Index (EASI), a ques- tionnaire previously developed and tested in Montreal.

Elder abuse and its detection are challenging and highly sensitive issues that need a lin- guistically and culturally specified approach and vocabulary. Consequently, the creation of a “universal” tool implies global testing.

  • e first step was the qualitative testing of a

set of questions, which led to the Montreal EASI, in the eight participating countries mentioned above. Further action such as the piloting of the tool in clinical settings and the expansion of the range of participating countries will be the basis for future studies.

  • e results of the study confirm that in the

opinion of the older people involved and, in particular, of the PHC professionals, the provision of a short instrument covering key dimensions of elder abuse might be a critical step in preventing and detecting such abuse. According to such results, however, a uni- versal instrument applicable to all cultural and geographical contexts has not yet been developed; the appropriateness of its content and wording vary, depending on the setting. Nevertheless, the study participants believe that it is essential to equip PHC professionals with a set of questions to serve as a starting point in raising awareness about elder abuse.


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