Original article| Volume 24, ISSUE 4, e455-e464, July 2014

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Obstetrician-Gynecologists' Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practice Regarding Elder Abuse Screening



      Elder abuse is a prevalent and growing social problem with significant consequences on victims' mental and physical health. Unfortunately, many cases of elder abuse go unreported. Elderly women are at increased risk for abuse and, as such, obstetrician-gynecologists (OB/GYNs) are in a unique position to screen for and report abuse. This study intended to determine OB/GYNs' knowledge, attitudes, and practice regarding elder abuse.


      Two hundred Fellows and Junior Fellows of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) received a survey. Analysis was completed with SPSS 20.0. In addition to descriptive statistics, χ2 analyses were used to determine differences between groups.


      In total, 122 fellows responded (61%). Abuse screening rates differed by abuse type. Few “always” screen for abuse, with half assessing only when it is suspected. Most (81%) had never reported a case of abuse. Younger males reported different clinical practice patterns than other groups. Generally, OB/GYNs were knowledgeable about risk factors and facts about elder abuse, but several knowledge gaps were identified. Most reported that elder abuse screening is within their professional purview. Half of the respondents cited time constraints as a barrier to screening.


      Greater education about elder abuse screening is needed. Specifically, training regarding available valid and brief screening tools, local abuse reporting laws, and available community resources. This study identified the potential need to target younger male OB/GYNs for additional training.
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      Meaghan A. Leddy, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. Her research interests include women's mental health, and she has published articles on obstetrician-gynecologists' knowledge, attitudes, and practice related to psychiatric concerns.


      Victoria A. Farrow, MA, is a Doctoral Candidate in Clinical Psychology at American University. Her research interests include workload, stress, and psychological health among physicians.


      Jay Schulkin, PhD, is the Director of Research at American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. His research interests include women's health, mental health, and behavioral endocrinology.