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Family Violence Against Older Women: Qualitative and Quantitative Research

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Family Violence Against Older Women: Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Demographic changes have affected the older population in the United States and across the globe to include increased life expectancy and fewer births. Some older adults experience challenges during this late stage of the life cycle due to lack of services provided by an ill prepared society. Older adults strive to remain as independent as possible while still maintaining a strong sense of family. For some this may mean living alone or with adult children or family members and for many maintaining homes with long time spouses. Family violence is one are of family services that does not appear to garner a lot of attention or provision of services, especially for older women. "The number of older women experiencing domestic violence is low compared with other age groups. However, this must be considered in the light of the fact that very little research has been done on the topic" (Blood, 2004, p. 2). Violence and/or abuse include "physical, sexual, financial, or psychological mistreatment" (Mouton, Rodabough, Rovi, Hunt, Telamantes, Brzyski & Burge, 2004, p. 605) that include physical, psychological. The following research abstracts examine quantitative and qualitative methods used to study domestic violence experiences of older women and it's relation to family services.

Quantitative Research Abstract

Prevalence and 3-Year Incidence of Abuse Among Postmenopausal Women


Mouton, Rodabough, Rovi, Hunt, Talamantes, Brzyski, and Burge's (2004) study described the purpose of the research is to "describe the 1-year baseline prevalence and 3-year incidence of physical and verbal abuse in a cohort of functionally independent older women and the sociodemographic factors and health behaviors associated with this prevalence of abuse" (p. 605). The authors examined the prevalence incidence and predictors of physical and verbal abuse among older women ages 50 and older. The researchers focused on the high rate of abuse and neglect among the population of post-menopausal women and the lack of attention to the lack of research regarding those who are considered otherwise healthy and independent women .The authors recognized previous research on abuse which focused on younger women or functional dependence and illness. From a public health prospective, the authors cited the possible implications of abuse to include "premature mortality and morbidity" and "increased medical costs associated with violent injuries" (Mouton et. al., 2004). The authors cited several studies regarding rates of death among female victims of abuse as well as medical costs, cognitive and physical impairments, and impairments of activities of daily living. The authors questioned


Mouton, Rodabough, Rovi, Hunt, Talamantes, Brzyski, and Burge's (2004) research method included 93, 205 post-menopausal women aged 50 to 79 years old recruited for a clinical trial and observational study conducted by Women's Health Initiative. Of these, 10, 199 were ineligible to participate in the clinical trial for various health- related reasons. The 10, 199 were invited to participate in the observational study. They represented mostly non-Hispanic White (82.9%), well educated, and married women. Several questionnaires were administered to the participants at the start of the study to include one regarding abuse. Three years after enrollment in the study, participants were administered the same study questionnaires. The research questions for the study were to determine if the women had experienced physical or verbal abuse at within 12 months of the beginning of the study (baseline) and/or within the 3 years of the study's conclusion. Authors determined the three variables of the study which were verbal abuse only, physical abuse only and verbal and physical abuse. Women who were screened positive for any type of abuse were provided with information regarding domestic violence resources and available services. Chi-square tests were performed to investigate the bivariate association of the three variables versus no abuse. Authors considered abuse the outcome variable and sociodemographic and health behavior variable were considered the covariates. Logistic regression models were developed to examine the association of study covariates with each level of abuse status versus no abuse (Mouton et. al., 2004, p. 606).


Mouton, Rodabough, Rovi, Hunt, Talamantes, Brzyski, and Burge's (2004) reported that of the 10, 199 women who reported being exposed to abuse a large percentage (89.1%) or 9083 had been exposed to verbal abuse only during the year prior to the baseline questionnaire. Covariates included younger age, non-White race, limited education, and low socioeconomic status. Authors found that "Black women wee 2.84 times more likely (95% confidence interval [CI] =1.89, 4.26) to report exposure to physical abuse only at baseline than non-Hispanic White women" (Mouton et. al., 2004, p. 606). One other interesting point presented by authors was that "women who were living alone were nearly half as likely to report exposure to physical abuse at baseline" (Mouton et. al. 2004, p. 607). The authors also found that data collected at the 3 year follow-up indicated that at least 2, 431 women who reported no experience with domestic violence at baseline, 67 (28%) reported physical abuse only, 2250 (92.6%) reported verbal abuse only, and 114 (4.7%) reported both. Covariates were identified to be associated with each variable with ethnicity being associated with all three. The authors recognized that women in the older age category of over 58 years were less likely to have been exposed to abuse or to report exposure to abuse than those 50 to 58 years of age. This signifies a correlation between age and exposure to physical and verbal abuse.


The researchers identified that the prevalence of physical abuse among post-menopausal women found in this study is similar to that found in previous research of younger non-dependent women. Authors noted that there was a significant difference found in the incidence of verbal abuse among post-menopausal non-dependent women. Findings showed a considerably high rate of women reporting verbal abuse as compared to other studies. The authors presented the notion that this is the first study of its kind to examine the incidence of physical and verbal abuse among a large population of post-menopausal women. Findings regarding the



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