The impact of psychological abuse on somatic symptoms: a study of older persons aged 60-84 years
The Journal of Adult Protection
Article publication date: 5 August 2014
The purpose of this paper is to examine differences in the experience of somatic symptoms by domain (exhaustion, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, heart distress) between psychologically abused and non-abused older persons, and to scrutinize associations between abuse and somatic symptoms while considering other factors (e.g. social support).
The design was cross-sectional. The participants were 4,467 women/men aged 60-84 years living in seven European cities. The data were analysed using bivariate/multivariate methods.
Psychologically abused participants scored higher on all somatic symptom domains than non-abused, and thus were more affected by the symptoms. The regressions confirmed a positive association between psychological abuse and most somatic symptom domains, but other factors (e.g. depression, anxiety) were more salient. Demographics/socio-economics were positively (e.g. marriage/cohabitation) or negatively (e.g. education) associated with somatic symptoms depending on the domain. Social support and family structure “protected” the experience of somatic symptoms.
The research focused on psychological abuse. It did not incorporate other abuse types calling for further research on the effects of other abuse types on somatic symptoms. Nevertheless, the findings indicate that psychological abuse is linked to somatic symptoms, but the role of other factors (e.g. depression, anxiety, social support) is also important.
Improvements in the older person's situation regarding somatic symptoms need to consider psychological abuse, co-morbidities, social support and living conditions.
The paper reports data from the ABUEL Survey, which collected population-based data on elder abuse.
J.J.F.S. devised the study; J.J.F.S. and E.V. conducted the analyses with input from ÖS; and all authors contributed to writing and revising the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Jorge Fernandes Soares, J., Viitasara, E., Macassa, G., Gabriella Melchiorre, M., Stankunas, M., Lindert, J., Barros, H., Ioannidi-Kapolou, E. and Torres-González, F. (2014), "The impact of psychological abuse on somatic symptoms: a study of older persons aged 60-84 years", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 213-231. https://doi.org/10.1108/JAP-08-2013-0034
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