A systematic review and meta-analysis of interventions designed to prevent or stop elder maltreatment

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Background: elder maltreatment is a major risk for older adults’ mental health, quality of life, health, institutionalisation and even mortality.

Objectives: to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of interventions designed to prevent or stop elder abuse.

Methods: Studies that were posted between January 2000 and December 2014, written in English, specifically designed to prevent or stop elder maltreatment were included.

Results: overall, 24 studies (and four records reporting on the same participants) were kept for the systematic review and the meta-analysis. Studies were broadly grouped into three main categories: (i) interventions designed to improve the ability of professionals to detect or stop elder maltreatment (n = 2), (ii) interventions that target older adults who experience elder maltreatment (n = 3) and (iii) interventions that target caregivers who maltreat older adults (n = 19). Of the latter category, one study targeted family caregivers, five targeted psychological abuse among paid carers and the remaining studies targeted restraint use. The pooled effect of randomised controlled trials (RCTs)/cluster-RCTs that targeted restraint use was significant, supporting the effectiveness of these interventions in reducing restraint use: standardised mean difference: −0.24, 95% confidence interval = −0.38 to −0.09.

Interpretation: the most effective place to intervene at the present time is by directly targeting physical restraint by long-term care paid carers. Specific areas that are still lacking evidence at the present time are interventions that target (i) elder neglect, (ii) public awareness, (iii) older adults who experience maltreatment, (iv) professionals responsible for preventing maltreatment, (v) family caregivers who abuse and (vi) carers who abuse.

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