Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2006


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





School of Nursing

Committee Chair

L. Kathleen Sekula

Committee Member

Ann Wolbert Burgess

Committee Member

John C. Kern

Committee Member

Kathleen Brown


elder abuse forensic markers, elder violence


Elder abuse is a serious and growing phenomenon, yet it is one of the most under-diagnosed and under-reported problems in the United States. Nurse Practitioners are uniquely positioned to identify, diagnose, and report elder abuse. Quantitative methodology underpinned by the theoretical framework of Carper's Patterns of Knowing was utilized to assess the self-perception of nurse practitioners related to the barriers of detection and strategies for management of elder abuse. Two hundred potential participants were randomly selected from the AANP membership database yielding a 54.5% response rate (n=88). Nurse practitioners identified the following barriers as fairly or very important: resistance to intervention, denial of abuse, fear of reprisal by the abuser towards the elder, lack of professional protocol related to responding and assessing elder abuse, lack of knowledge about where to call for help, lack of professional protocol, lack of guidelines about confidentiality, difficulty in determining what constitutes elder abuse, and lack of knowledge about prevalence. Strategies perceived to be helpful included: one agency to call, list of resources, directory, resource package for practice, professional guidelines, continuing education and elder abuse education in practice, central library resource, and an elder abuse newsletter. The majority of responding nurse practitioners (57.9%) reported that they saw suspected cases of elder abuse on a monthly or weekly basis. When asked about educational preparedness 62.5% did not feel that their undergraduate nursing program adequately prepared them to detect and manage elder abuse and 42.1% of respondents did not feel that their nurse practitioner program adequately prepared them. The results of this study provide nursing knowledge about the self-perceptions of nurse practitioners related to elder abuse and new information that can be utilized to further nursing research.