Date of Award

Fall 11-16-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Sheryl Strasser

Second Advisor

Patricia King

Abstract

Abstract Background: The aging population is a rapidly growing demographic. Isolation and limited autonomy render many of the elderly vulnerable to abuse, neglect and exploitation. As the population grows, so does the need for Adult Protective Services (APS). This study was conducted to examine current knowledge of Georgia older adult protection laws and to identify training opportunities to better prepare the APS workforce in cases detection and intervention. Methods: A primary survey was developed in partnership with the Georgia Division of Aging Services’ leadership to identify key training priority issues APS caseworkers and investigators. A 47-item, electronic questionnaire was delivered (using Psychdata) to all APS employees via work- issued email accounts. Descriptive analyses, t-tests, and chi-square analyses were used to determine APS employees’ baseline knowledge of Georgia’s elder abuse policies, laws, and practices as well as examine associations of age, ethnicity, and formal education level with knowledge. A p-value of <0 >.05 and 95% confidence intervals were used to determine statistical significance of the analyses performed. Results: In total, 92 out of 175 APS staff responded to the survey (53% response rate). The majority of respondents were Caucasian (56%) women (92%). For over half the survey items, a paired sample t-tests revealed significant differences between what APS staff reported as known and what APS staff members indicated they needed to know more about in terms of elder abuse and current policies. Chi-square tests revealed that non-Caucasians significantly preferred video conferencing as a training format (44% compared to 18%), [χ2 (1) = 7.102, p < .008] whereas Caucasians preferred asynchronous online learning formats (55% compared to 28%) [χ2 (1) =5.951, p < .015]. Conclusions: Results from this study provides the Georgia Division of Aging with insights into specific content areas that can be emphasized in future trainings. Soliciting input from intended trainees allows public health educators to tailor and improve training sessions. Trainee input may result in optimization of attendance, knowledge acquisition, and intervention practices regarding APS service delivery. This in turn can enhance APS staff efficiency and response to cases of violence against older adults.

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