Elder Abuse:

Effectiveness of Reporting Laws and Other Factors

HRD-91-74: Published: Apr 24, 1991. Publicly Released: May 16, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed states' mandatory and voluntary laws for reporting domestic elder abuse, to determine: (1) which type of law was most effective in identifying elder abuse victims; and (2) the effectiveness of reporting laws and other factors in identifying, preventing, and treating elderly abuse.

GAO found that: (1) significant differences among states' laws and data collection practices made it difficult to compare mandatory and voluntary laws and to determine which type of reporting law was more effective; (2) 80 percent of state officials ranked public and professional awareness as the most effective factor for identifying elder abuse victims; (3) 26 state officials ranked the provision of in-home services as one of the most effective factors for preventing and treating elder abuse; (4) reporting laws, whether mandatory or voluntary, were considered less effective for preventing a first occurrence of elder abuse or treating substantiated cases; (5) 18 state officials ranked interagency coordination as the second most effective factor for treating elder abuse and in-home respite care as the third most effective factor for treating elder abuse; and (6) efforts to raise public and professional awareness, improve interagency coordination, and increase the availability of in-home and respite care are likely to have a more significant impact on the effectiveness of state elder abuse programs than mandatory or voluntary reporting laws.