Resilience as a protective factor against elder abuse by family caregivers: findings from a cross-sectional study in Hong Kong

Elsie Yan*, Haze K. L. Ng, Rongwei Sun, Daniel W. L. Lai, Sheung Tak Cheng, Vivian W. Q. Lou, Daniel Y. T. Fong, Timothy Kwok

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Purpose: This study aims to explore the risk and protective factors of abuse on older adults by family caregivers, with a special focus on the protective role of caregiver resilience in elder abuse.

Design/methodology/approach: This cross-sectional survey was conducted on a purposive sample of 600 family caregivers of community-dwelling older adults in Hong Kong (mean age = 71.04 and female = 67.2%). Caregivers reported in a guided interview about elder abuse behaviours, caregiver burden, care recipients’ agitated behaviours, caregiver resilience, self-efficacy, social support and basic demographic characteristics. Hierarchical linear regression analyses were conducted to examine the predictors of different forms of elder abuse.

Findings: Caregiver resilience was predictive of lower levels of verbal abuse, physical abuse, injury and financial exploitation but not potentially harmful behaviour (PHB). Social support was independent with all forms of elder abuse, while self-efficacy predicted greater physical abuse after the adjustment of confounding variables. Caregiver burden and agitated behaviours by care recipients remained as significant risk factors in the final models when protective factors were considered.

Research limitations/implications: This study extends current knowledge on the protecting role of resilience in elder abuse in family caregiving. Mixed findings revealed on social support and self-efficacy also highlight the complexity of the prediction of caregiver abuse. Further research should address this area.

Practical implications: The findings of this study warrant the inclusion of caregiver resilience as a key component in developing interventions to prevent elder abuse. Addressing caregiver burden and agitated behaviours have the potential in preventing elder abuse.

Social implications: The findings raise awareness of the importance of supporting caregivers in the community to prevent elder abuse.

Originality/value: Research concerning the protective factors of elder abuse is in a preliminary stage. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is among the first which successfully demonstrates the protective role of resilience in caregiver abuse on older adults. The findings shed invaluable light on the design of effective interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-269
Number of pages15
JournalThe Journal of Adult Protection
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

User-Defined Keywords

  • Caregiver burden
  • Caregiving
  • Elder abuse
  • Older adults
  • Resilience
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social support


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