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Elder abuse in Ghana – a qualitative exploratory study

Wenche Malmedal (Department of Public Health and Nursing, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway)
Christiana Anyan (Department of Health and Welfare, Trondheim Municipality, Trondheim, Norway)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 21 October 2020

Issue publication date: 21 October 2020




The aim of this study was to explore how Ghanaian staff in nursing homes and hospitals perceive abuse and neglect of older adults as well as to explore the nature and scope of abuse and neglect of older adults as it exists in Ghana.


This exploratory study used a qualitative research methodology that sets out to explore staff’s perception of elder abuse in nursing homes and hospitals in Ghana. Five nursing assistants and two caregivers were interviewed in two nursing homes and four nurses were interviewed in one hospital. A semi-structured interview guide was used for data collection.


The findings showed that elder abuse occurs in both hospitals and nursing homes, which might be attributed to different personal, situational and institutional characteristics as well as cultural and traditional value systems. Various factors at the level of interpersonal relationships contributed to elder abuse. Situational characteristics such as aggressive exchanges between residents and health workers and institutional characteristics such as limited facilities and resources to care for residents are all factors that were implicated in elder abuse. Finally, culture and traditional views, beliefs system and socioeconomic factors seem to be implicated in elder abuse and neglect.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study that explores elder abuse and neglect in Ghanaian nursing homes and hospitals.



Authors deepest gratitude goes to the health workers who accepted to be interviewed and to share their experiences. Thanks also to the nursing home and hospital leaders who approved and supported this study.


Malmedal, W. and Anyan, C. (2020), "Elder abuse in Ghana – a qualitative exploratory study", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 22 No. 5, pp. 299-313.



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