Exposure to Violence in Social Unrest, Resilience, and Mental Health of Older People in Hong Kong

Daniel W.L. Lai, Xiaoting Ou*, Vincent W.P. Lee, Elsie C.W. Yan, Jessica J. Li, Emma H. Liu, Wenqing Yu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objective: Older adults are prone to the negative effects of exposure to violence on their mental health. This study aimed to examine the impact of exposure to violence during social unrest and the role of resilience in the mental health of older people. Design: A total of 1,203 people aged 65 years or older were randomly selected for a telephone survey using the random digit dialing numbering method in Hong Kong. Measurements: A 13-item scale was developed to measure exposure to violence. The Chinese versions of the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale and the Startle, Physiological Arousal, Anger, and Numbness scales for measuring mental health status were adopted in the survey. Results: The results showed that the more frequently older people were exposed to information, the more negative mental health status they had. However, exposure to witnessing and experiencing violence was not significantly associated with mental health status. Older adults’ level of resilience had a moderating effect between exposure to information and mental health, whereas the effect of exposure to information on mental health was stronger for respondents with lower resilience. Conclusion: This study showed that emotional problems caused by exposure to related information among older people should be properly addressed during massive social unrest and conflict. Their resilience capacity is an important moderating factor. Future interventions and support services should focus on enhancing the resilience of older people to better equip them with overcoming problems related to macro-social issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1091-1099
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number12
Early online date16 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

User-Defined Keywords

  • Exposure to violence
  • Hong Kong
  • mental health status
  • older people
  • resilience
  • social unrest


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