Date of Award

Summer 8-7-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

First Advisor

Dr. Sheryl Strasser

Second Advisor

Megan Smith

Abstract

Background: Adults over 60 years of age in the United States are increasing in total percentage of the population and will continue to do so as each wave of the post-war, baby-boom generation enters older adulthood. Though elder mistreatment (EM) has undoubtedly been a public health problem for years, only recently has it been recognized as such. Violence prevention programs that focus on EM are needed to curb this rising epidemic. One such program, the At-Risk Adult Crime Tactics (ACT) Certification Training, is an at-risk, adult (elderly or disabled adults) prevention program designed to increase professional awareness of this population and equip primary and secondary responders (all mandated reporters) with the knowledge and skills to address the needs of Georgia’s at-risk adult crime victims.

Methodology: In order to assess the effectiveness of the ACT training, an invitation was emailed to 482 individuals who had previously completed the ACT Certification Training, inviting them to complete an (approximately) 20 minute, 41-question, online survey. Data analyses were performed to determine if these various professionals had, post ACT training, increased knowledge regarding at-risk adult abuse, increased interagency collaboration, changed management of cases involving at-risk adults, and felt that workshop topics presented during training were helpful in their profession. The survey also collected information on seven demographic indicators, and correlation analyses were run to determine their influence on survey responses. A p-value of < .05 was used to determine statistical significance of the analyses performed.

Results: Of the 482 professionals surveyed, 176 surveys were used for this research (a response rate of slightly over thirty-six percent). Results show that, post ACT training, respondents’ reported significantly increased levels of knowledge regarding all at-risk abuse topics, significantly increased interagency collaboration across all included agencies, significant change in case management of at-risk adults, significant levels of helpfulness on all workshop topics presented during ACT training. Furthermore, demographic analyses found significant negative correlations between extent of change in case management of at-risk adults and the demographic indicators of education and age. Also, a positive correlation was found between reported level of helpfulness on one workshop topic (community resources) and the service area of respondents.

Conclusions: Though the results of this survey are quite positive, more surveys need to be conducted on future classes of ACT training graduates to determine the validity of this study’s results. Moreover, in order to truly substantiate claims that ACT training prevents EM and other at-risk adult abuse, research must be conducted to document the link between this prevention program and improvements in EM outcomes.

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