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Elder Mistreatment: Using Theory in Research

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2014
24 pages

This is the summary of a meeting of researchers in the field of elder mistreatment, who met in June 2014 to focus on making theory a more important part of elder abuse research, identifying barriers to this effort, and defining ways to improve the integration of theory into research designs and proposals.


One presenter addressed the benefits of theory in violence research, including abuse of the elderly, since violence in its various forms and contexts has some common features that can inform research on any specific type of violent victimization. Theories used to explain the emergence of various problem behaviors, such as General Strain theory, can also be tested in research on elder abuse. Another presenter develops the argument that theory is important in advancing and fine-tuning the understanding of phenomenon in terms of its impact on those involved. The presentation on the Promise and Peril of Conceptual Frameworks for Elder Abuse notes that theory derived from a particular body of knowledge may limit research, so the development of multidisciplinary theoretical perspectives is essential for insightful research. Another presenter provides an overview of elder abuse theories derived from criminology, such as deterrence theory, routine activities theory, and strain theory. A representative of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research arm of the U.S. Justice Department, profiles NIJ's elder abuse research grants that have been awarded, with attention to how theory has been used in this research. Attached participant list

Date Published: June 1, 2014