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GAO discussed the comparative effectiveness of mandatory and voluntary state laws for reporting elder abuse. GAO noted that the two types of laws could not be meaningfully compared, since: (1) state laws addressing elder abuse varied widely; (2) data collection practices differed from state to state, and states did not provide comparable data on the total number of identified cases; and (3) the number of elder abuse cases that states identified was influenced by many other factors in addition to reporting laws, but empirical data on those other factors were unavailable. GAO also noted that state officials considered: (1) reporting laws much less effective than other factors in maximizing the number of elder abuse cases identified, prevented, and treated; (2) a high level of public and professional awareness as the most effective factor for case identification; and (3) the provision of in-home services for the elderly as the most effective factor in preventing a first occurrence of elder abuse.

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