Medical students' recognition of elder abuse

J Thompson-McCormick, Lisa Jones, C Cooper, G Livingston

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    15 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives To determine the proportion of fourth-year medical students who correctly recognise abusive and not abusive care of older people and whether recognition is related to sociodemographic factors and education. Design A cross-sectional self-report questionnaire study, using the Caregiving Scenario Questionnaire; measuring recognition of elder abuse according to the Department of Health's definition. Participants Fourth-year medical students at University College London and the University of Birmingham, UK. Results Two hundred and two of 207 students (97.6%) responded. Twenty-nine of 201 (14.4%) identified accepting someone was not clean; 113/200 (56.5%) locking someone in alone; and 160/200 (80.0%) trapping someone in an armchair as abusive. All medical students correctly identified four Out of five not abusive responses. Twelve (6.0%) incorrectly identified camouflaging the door to prevent wandering as abusive. Logistic regression analysis found the independent predictors of recognising that locking in alone was abusive were working as a professional carer (OR = 3.33, 95% CI = 1.25-8.89, p <0.05) and reporting being taught to look for elder abuse (OR = 0.46, 95% CI = 0.24-0.89, p <0.05). Similarly, the independent predictors of recognising that restraint in an armchair was abusive were attending university A versus university B (OR = 2.38, 95% CI = 1.09-5.26, p <0.05); being of White British versus Asian ethnicity (OR = 4.00, 95% CI = 1.75-9.09, P <0.01). Conclusions Medical students are good at recognising not abusive care, but not as successful at recognising elder abuse. Working as a professional carer was associated with better recognition of abuse, while personal contact with a person with dementia and recalling formal education about abuse were not. Copyright (C) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)770-777
    Number of pages8
    JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2009


    • medical students
    • medical education
    • detection
    • elder abuse
    • dementia


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