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The Gerontologist 46:200-209 (2006)
© 2006 The Gerontological Society of America

The Extent and Frequency of Abuse in the Lives of Older Women and Their Relationship With Health Outcomes

Bonnie S. Fisher, PhD1 and Saundra L. Regan, PhD2

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Bonnie S. Fisher, PhD, Division of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati, P.O. Box 210389, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0389. E-mail: Bonnie.Fisher{at}

Purpose:  This study assessed the extent of different types of abuse, repeated and multiple abuse experiences among women aged 60 and older, and their effects on the women's self-reported health. Design and Methods:  A cross-sectional study of a clinical sample of 842 community-dwelling women aged 60 and older completed a telephone survey about type and frequency of abuse, self-reported health status and health conditions, and demographic characteristics. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed using SPSS 11.5 and STATA 7.0. Results:  Nearly half of the women had experienced at least one type of abuse—psychological/emotional, control, threat, physical, or sexual—since turning 55 years old. Sizable proportions were victims of repeat abuse. Many women experienced multiple types of abuse and experienced abuse often. Abused older women were significantly more likely to report more health conditions than those who were not abused. Women who experienced psychological/emotional abuse—alone, repeatedly, or with other types of abuse—had significantly increased odds of reporting bone or joint problems, digestive problems, depression or anxiety, chronic pain, and high blood pressure or heart problems. Implications:  It is important that health care and service providers acknowledge psychological/emotional, control, threat, physical, and sexual abuse against older women and understand their health implications. In addition, it is important for providers to be trained in both aging and domestic violence services and resources.

Key Words: Abuses • Health conditions • Repeat abuse • Multiple abuse • Older women

This article has been cited by other articles:

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J Am Psychiatr Nurses AssocHome page
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Elderly Abuse: A Critical Issue on the Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing Agenda
Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, January 1, 2007; 12(6): 311 - 312.

All GSA journals Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Copyright © 2006 by The Gerontological Society of America.