Hostility and coping capacity as risk factors of elder mistreatment

H. C. Comijs*, C. Jonker, W. Van Tilburg, J. H. Smit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the present study we investigate whether, in addition to established risk factors, some personality traits of the victims are associated with elder mistreatment. Identified victims of chronic verbal aggression (n = 37), physical aggression (n = 38) and financial mistreatment (n = 55) as well as equal-sized control groups were interviewed. The control groups were matched on age, gender, and the characteristics that have been identified as risk factors for the types of elder mistreatment listed above. All respondents were over 65 years of age. In a standardised interview, commonly used instruments were utilised to assess coping style, locus of control, perceived self-efficacy and hostility. To analyse the data multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed. The study found that, chronic verbal aggression was associated with having less control over problem situations and a higher tendency to react aggressively when feeling angry or frustrated. Physical aggression was associated with a passive and avoidant way of handling problems. Financial mistreatment was associated with having negative beliefs of self-efficacy and a tendency to turn aggression and frustration on themselves. These results indicate that in addition to the established risk factors, some personality traits of the victims have to be considered as risk factors of elder mistreatment. The way people handle problems makes them more or less vulnerable to becoming victims of elder mistreatment. Furthermore, the results indicate that elder mistreatment may be associated to some extent with long-standing interaction patterns among family members. These findings are important for prevention of and intervention in cases of elder mistreatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-52
Number of pages5
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1999

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