Prevalence and correlates of elder mistreatment in South Carolina: the South Carolina elder mistreatment study

J Interpers Violence. 2011 Oct;26(15):2947-72. doi: 10.1177/0886260510390959. Epub 2011 May 20.


The purposes of this study were to (a) derive prevalence estimates for elder mistreatment (emotional, physical, sexual, neglectful, and financial mistreatment of older adults [age 60 +]) in a randomly selected sample of South Carolinians; (b) examine correlates (i.e., potential risk factors) of mistreatment; and (c) examine incident characteristics of mistreatment events. Random Digit Dialing (RDD) was used to derive a representative sample in terms of age and gender; computer-assisted telephone interviewing was used to standardize collection of demographic, correlate, and mistreatment data. Prevalence estimates and mistreatment correlates were obtained and subjected to logistic regression. A total of 902 participants provided data. Prevalence for mistreatment types (since age 60) were 12.9% emotional, 2.1% physical, 0.3% sexual, 5.4% potential neglect, and 6.6% financial exploitation by family member. The most consistent correlates of mistreatment across abuse types were low social support and needing assistance with daily living activities. One in 10 participants reported either emotional, physical, sexual, or neglectful mistreatment within the past year, and 2 in 10 reported mistreatment since age 60. Across categories, the most consistent correlate of mistreatment was low social support, representing an area toward which preventive intervention may be directed with significant public health implications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aggression*
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Elder Abuse / prevention & control
  • Elder Abuse / psychology
  • Elder Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • South Carolina / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vulnerable Populations / psychology
  • Vulnerable Populations / statistics & numerical data*