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Training for Physicians on Elder Abuse

The mortality rate for elderly victims of crime is triple that of other older people—and because the elderly visit their doctors more frequently than the general population, physicians are well positioned to intervene on behalf of elderly victims. However, little is taught about elder abuse in medical schools, in spite of there being a number of well-recognized risk factors.

To address this inequity, OVC funded the Baylor College of Medicine to develop a curriculum for academic physicians and other health professionals that focuses on the risk factors and indicators of elder abuse, appropriate intervention strategies, reporting and documenting requirements, and cooperation with law enforcement. The grantee pilot tested the training at medical schools in Houston, Texas, during the first year, targeting faculty in geriatrics, family practice, emergency medicine, surgery, and general internal medicine. The curriculum was revised based on the results of the pilot test and has been further tested elsewhere in the state. The curriculum is currently being finalized. With funding in its third year, the grantee will develop an interactive Web site for ongoing education, technical assistance, and interdisciplinary case consultations with participating medical school sites.

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