Theoretical approaches to elder abuse: a systematic review of the empirical evidence
The Journal of Adult Protection
Article publication date: 11 August 2021
Issue publication date: 30 November 2021
The study of theoretical models explaining elder abuse has been one of the main gaps in the literature of the field. The extent of support of each theory is not clear. This study aims to conduct a systematic review to examine research supporting or opposing six theories of elder abuse: caregiver stress theory, social exchange theory, social learning theory, bidirectional theory, dyadic discord theory and the psychopathology of the caregiver.
This study conducts a systematic review of the literature. Seven databases were searched six times using different keywords about each theory.
This paper finds 26,229 references and then organised and analysed these references using pre-established criteria. In total, 89 papers were selected, which contained 117 results of interest; these papers were summarised and assessed for conceptual, methodological and evidence quality. The results showed evidence in favour of all the explored theories, except for social learning theory, whose results indicate multiple interpretations of the theory. This study finishes this paper by proposing that each of these theories might explain different facets of elder abuse and that more research is necessary to understand how the predictions of these different theories interact.
This paper presents an extensive review of the literature on theoretical explanations of elder abuse. The findings can be of value for selecting theories for prevention programmes or providing a summary of the evidence for researchers and practitioners interested in the theoretical explanation of elder abuse.
This study was conducted at Psychology Research Centre (UID/PSI/01662/2013), University of Minho, and supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology and the Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education through national funds and co-financed by FEDER through COMPETE2020 under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007653). João F. Fundinho was funded by a scholarship from the Portuguese Foundations for Science and Technology – FCT – (PD/BD/105965/2014). Ministério da Educação e Ciência. Fundacação para a Ciência Tecnologia. PD/BD/105965/2014.
Fundinho, J.F., Pereira, D.C. and Ferreira-Alves, J. (2021), "Theoretical approaches to elder abuse: a systematic review of the empirical evidence", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 23 No. 6, pp. 370-383. https://doi.org/10.1108/JAP-04-2021-0014
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