- Patricia Kimball, MS
- Stuart Lewis, MD
- Zach Gassoumis, PhD
Research Project Description
Elder abuse—physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect—is widespread, often unrecognized, and has devastating consequences for its victims and their families. As the number of older persons in the U.S. population grows, so too will the number of elders who are being abused. Adult protective services (APS) is the primary agency responsible for responding to and resolving elder abuse as well as self-neglect. In almost every state, health and social services professionals are mandated to report elder abuse to APS when they encounter it yet little research has been done to investigate the efficacy of APS in improving case outcomes or its impact on the lives of victims and families. While efforts are underway to standardize and improve APS practices across the country there remains a fundamental lack of knowledge about the experience of health and social services professionals attempting to meet both their mandated reporting obligations and work in the best interests of their patient or client. Even less is known about how community characteristics—particularly those differences linked to rural living and variations in both culture and density of health and social services—impact mandated reporting.
We aim to identify differences in mandated reporting and APS engagement that may result in disparities, with an eye toward achieving equity in social services access across populations. Our project uses various approaches to answer two questions:
- What are the experiences, perspectives, and barriers to reporting from various stakeholder vantage points; and
- Can a “warmline” help confused or conflicted mandated reporters gain clarity about making a report?
This will be accomplished through three study components: interviews and focus groups with key stakeholder groups in Maine; a survey to be administered to practitioners across the state; and the Elder Abuse Institute of Maine will provide a “warmline” offering information and consultation to mandated reporters. This project will give the investigators the opportunity to contribute to the field’s increasingly person-centered and collaborative approach to addressing elder abuse—one small but crucial step in advancing a culture of health.
Patricia Kimball, MS
Ms. Kimball is the Executive Director at Elder Abuse Institute of Maine where their mission is to offer the hope of a peaceful future to older Mainers who are victims of abuse. They serve as a resource to professionals in the state and also provide transitional housing and supportive services that help older victims escape abusive situations and find long-term safety.
Stuart Lewis, MD
Dr. Lewis is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine and Staff Physician in the Division of Geriatrics and Primary Care. Alongside his practice he works to promote evidence-based decision making at the interface of public policy, public health and individual well-being. This focus has led to a diverse set of collaborations with law enforcement, Fortune 100 pharmaceutical benefits management companies, state agencies and others.
Zach Gassoumis, PhD
Dr. Gassoumis is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Gerontology at the University of Southern California. He researches securing a basic quality of life for older adults, specifically within the areas of elder abuse, economic security, and the provision of health, social, and protective services. Much of his research involves an application of quantitative methodologies to large, population-based datasets.
A Helping Voice: An Initiative to Support Maine’s Home Care Workers as Mandated Reporters of Elder Abuse