Mistreatment and self-neglect in community dwelling older adults: Studies of construct validity, measurement invariance and latent classes

Jason Burnett, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Mistreatment and self-neglect significantly increase the risk of dying in older adults. It is estimated that 1 to 2 million older adults experience elder mistreatment and self-neglect every year in the United States. Currently, there are no elder mistreatment and self-neglect assessment tools with construct validity and measurement invariance testing and no studies have sought to identify underlying latent classes of elder self-neglect that may have differential mortality rates. Using data from 11,280 adults with Texas APS substantiated elder mistreatment and self-neglect 3 studies were conducted to: (1) test the construct validity and (2) the measurement invariance across gender and ethnicity of the Texas Adult Protective Services (APS) Client Assessment and Risk Evaluation (CARE) tool and (3) identify latent classes associated with elder self-neglect. Study 1 confirmed the construct validity of the CARE tool following adjustments to the initial hypothesized CARE tool. This resulted in the deletion of 14 assessment items and a final assessment with 5 original factors and 43 items. Cross-validation for this model was achieved. Study 2 provided empirical evidence for factor loading and item-threshold invariance of the CARE tool across gender and between African-Americans and Caucasians. The financial status domain of the CARE tool did not function properly for Hispanics and thus, had to be deleted. Subsequent analyses showed factor loading and item-threshold invariance across all 3 ethnic groups with the exception of some residual errors. Study 3 identified 4-latent classes associated with elder self-neglect behaviors which included individuals with evidence of problems in the areas of (1) their environment, (2) physical and medical status, (3) multiple domains and (4) finances. Overall, these studies provide evidence supporting the use of APS CARE tool for providing unbiased and valid investigations of mistreatment and neglect in older adults with different demographic characteristics. Furthermore, the findings support the underlying notion that elder self-neglect may not only occur along a continuum, but that differential types may exist. All of which, have very important potential implications for social and health services distributed to vulnerable mistreated and neglected older adults.

Subject Area

Gerontology|Quantitative psychology

Recommended Citation

Burnett, Jason, "Mistreatment and self-neglect in community dwelling older adults: Studies of construct validity, measurement invariance and latent classes" (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3542563.