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Research Publications


Injury patterns and causal mechanisms of bruising in physical elder abuse.

Ziminski CE, Wiglesworth A, Austin R, Phillips LR, Mosqueda L.

Author Affiliations: 1School of Nursing, University of California, Los Angeles, and 2Program in Geriatrics, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine.

The recognition of injury patterns can aid forensic nurses to identify victims of elder abuse. This study examined the mechanism of injury of bruises endured by physical elder abuse victims. A sample of 67 elders aged 65 years and older who reported to Adult Protective Services for physical elder abuse was included in the analysis. A research nurse conducted assessments and documented the presence and characteristics of all bruises. Data regarding the abusive incident were collected through victim descriptions and the Revised Conflicts Tactic Scales (CTS2) physical assault scale. The most common bruising locations were the lateral/anterior arms (n = 23, 34.3%), head and neck (n = 10, 14.9%), and posterior torso (n = 7, 10.4%). Victims' odds of having head and neck bruises were greater when reporting being choked (OR = 7.71, 95% CI [1.29, 45.90], p = 0.039), punched (OR = 13.53, 95% CI [2.55, 71.80], p = 0.001), and beaten up (OR = 5.60, 95% CI [3.26, 74.45], p = 0.001). The odds of having lateral/anterior arm bruises were eight times greater when the victim reported being grabbed (OR = 8.43, 95% CI [2.67, 26.65], p < 0.001). The findings suggest similarities between injuries experienced in elder abuse and those in intimate partner violence. Findings highlight injury patterns that elder abuse victims sustain and can be informative for forensic nurses.

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