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Integration of Elder Abuse and Neglect into a Domestic Violence Curriculum


Integration of Elder Abuse and Neglect into a Domestic Violence Curriculum

University of Massachusetts Medical School
Sarah McGee, MS, Colleen Burnham, MS, Michele Pugnaire, MS, Elizabeth Howard, MS, Julie Jonassen, MS, Erika Oleson, MS
Donald W. Reynolds Foundation
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This product can be integrated into an interclerkship for third year medical students, through lecture and a standardized patient (SP) experience. The PowerPoint lecture presentation focuses on screening and identification of elder abuse and discusses decision making capacity. Following the lecture, students practice inteviewing an older SP using a case concerning elder abuse.  After the interview, students receive feedback from the SP, peers and faculty in small groups.

Educational objectives: 

During this course student dyads practice and receive feedback on communication and interviewing skills.

Upon completion of the course, the third year medical student should be able to:

  1. Articulate the types of elder abuse and neglect
  2. Identify elders at risk for abuse
  3. Discuss screening for elder abuse
  4. Briefly describe decision making capacity
Additional information/Special implementation requirements or guidelines: 

This product contains two versions of the lecture: a Powerpoint file and a PDF of the slides. It also contains a profile for the Standardized Patient.

The one day domestic violence interclerkship is required for third year medical students at UMMS. The interclerkship includes topics such as screening for intimate partner violence; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender domestic violence; and community resources.  Elder abuse was added to the clerkship with a 30 minute PowerPoint presentation discussing screening and interviewing skills. The lecture presentation also focused on neglect, self-neglect and decision making capacity.

During the interclerkship students practice communication and interviewing skills with elder standardized patients. Student-standardized patient dyads role-play the elder interview in small group. A standardized patient (SP) case, developed for the elder abuse exercise, involves an elder who is undergoing neglect and financial abuse by a family member. Prior to the interclerkship, the SPs undergo a training session about the developed case, and faculty are given a guide that discusses domestic violence and the simulated patient case. The domestic violence interview for the elder case is formative; there is no checklist. Following the SP experience, working in groups of four, the students are given feedback about their communication skills and interaction with the SP from their peers, the SP, and the small group faculty  leader.

Additional materials for the students included a recent JAMA article and patient handout about elder abuse for further infomation on the topic.

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Conflict of Interest Disclosure: 
No, I (we) have nothing to disclose.
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Suggested Citation:
Dr. Elizabeth Howard, Sarah McGee, Dr. Julie Jonassen, Dr. Erika Oleson, Colleen Burnham and Dr. Michele Pugnaire. Integration of Elder Abuse and Neglect into a Domestic Violence Curriculum. POGOe - Portal of Geriatrics Online Education; 2012 Available from: