Published Papers - Abstract 127

Schofield MJ & Mishra GD. Validity of self-report screening scale for elder abuse: Women's Health Australia study. The Gerontologist, 2003; 43(1): 110-120

Purpose: Early identification of elder abuse requires a valid, easily administered screening instrument. This study examined the reliability and validity of the Vulnerability to Abuse Screening Scale (VASS), a 12-item self-report measure with four factors (Vulnerability, Dependence, Dejection and Coercion). Design and methods: The sample consisted of 10,421 nationally representative Women’s Health Australia study participants, aged 73-78, who completed the Time 2 postal survey in 1999. We tested validity of the VASS factor structure and whether baseline risk status independently predicted Time 2 attrition. Results: Findings confirmed the VASS factor structure and construct validity. Four factors explained 51% of variance, and these factors were internally consistent. The Vulnerability and Coercion factors held the strongest face and construct validity for physical and psychological abuse. The Dependence and Dejection factors were valid and reliable and significantly predicted 3-year attrition after controlling for confounders. Implications: Further work is needed to determine sensitivity and specificity of VASS as a screening instrument for elder abuse. Qualitative research could examine specific experiences and contexts of vulnerable women.