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Rethinking Elder Abuse: Words and Actions

Vernon-Scott, Sarah A
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) M.A. thesis, Clinical Psychology, Lakehead University.

The main purpose of this study was to determine the quality and impact of various presentations of elder abuse information to establish the most effective ways to educate the public about elder abuse. Secondary to this purpose was to explore aspects of restorative justice interventions for elder abuse cases. The first experiment involved three pamphlets with similar content that were presented with titles reflecting different conceptual frameworks; elder abuse, conflict resolution, and empowerment. The pamphlets were simultaneously made available at a seniors centre to determine any differences in frequency of pamphlet selection. Elder abuse was the least selected pamphlet, offering empirical evidence to the claim that people avoid materials with the words elder abuse on them. The second experiment involved students reading one of 6 pamphlets with similar content but with the wording varied on two dimensions; type of conceptual framework, and tone (emotional versus neutral wording). The student participants rated the quality and impact of the information, answered items about their knowledge, beliefs and attitudes about elder abuse, and provided some basic demographic information. Elder abuse pamphlets were rated to have higher impact than other messages. It appears that although elder abuse messages have the most impact for students, the seniors are less likely to pick up educational material using this language; so alternate wordings may be the best solution to deliver the message about elder abuse to the most people. Author’s abstract.


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