Psychological distress in victims of elder mistreatment: The effects of social support and coping

Hannie C. Comijs*, Brenda W.J.H. Penninx, Kees P.M. Knipscheer, Willem Van Tilburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The objective of the study was to examine psychological distress in victims of elder mistreatment and to determine whether social support, coping style, mastery, and perceived self-efficacy favorably influence the psychological health of these victims. The study sample consisted of 77 subjects who reported recent chronic verbal aggression, physical aggression, or financial mistreatment, and a control group of 147 subjects who had not been mistreated. All participants were elderly persons who were over 65 years of age and living independently in the community. Social support, coping style, mastery, and perceived self-efficacy were measured by means of a standardized home interview. Psychological distress was measured by means of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). Victims of elder mistreatment had significantly higher levels of psychological distress than nonvictims. Social support showed a favorable effect on the level of psychological distress in victims, but not in nonvictims; victims who received more social support showed less psychological distress. A lower sense of mastery, a negative perception of self-efficacy, and a passive reaction pattern were associated with higher levels of psychological distress in victims as well as in nonvictims. The beneficial role of social support, locus of control, and perceived self-efficacy on the level of psychological distress could be of importance in the development of future intervention programs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume54
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999

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