Introduction WHO and the International Network of the Prevention of Elder Abuse have recognised the abuse of older people as a significant global problem. Notwithstanding this recognition, generally the issue of elder abuse does not emerge as a major theme in research nor in the work of policymakers.
Method This research is part of the “prevalence study of Abuse and Violence against Older Women” (AVOW) which is funded by the EU's Daphne III programme. The AVOW-study aims to provide knowledge about the prevalence of abuse and violence against older women in five European countries (Austria, Belgium, Finland, Lithuania and Portugal). The first phase of the research consisted of providing an overview about the state of the art of prevalence research on elder abuse, survey designs and methods, instruments and results in all European countries. Therefore, an extensive literature search and qualitative content analysis was conducted.
Results and Conclusion Some EU-countries have a rich history of prevalence research, whereas other countries have just begun to tackle the issue. One of the lacunae concerns reliable data on the prevalence of elder abuse. Research about where, when and how often elder abuse occurs, is largely inadequate and inconsistent. Surveying elders on such a sensitive topic, however, implies a modified questionnaire and an adapted data collection method. Conclusively, substantive attention is paid to develop possible guidelines for future research.
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