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Understanding the risk factors to prevent violence against older adults

Rogers MM & Storey JE.  Elder homicide: A systematic literature review  Aggression and Violent Behavior. 2019;48:141-151.

Review question

      What are the characteristics of elderly homicide victims, offenders, the victim-offender relationship and the offence itself?


      Homicide is the most severe form of elder abuse and a lack of research makes it difficult to prevent violence in practice.

      Traditionally, elder homicide has not been differentiated as a separate category of elder abuse, and there is a lack of information on risk factors.

      Identifying and examining the characteristics of elder abuse may improve risk identification, assessment and management.

How the review was done

      A detailed search of a number of electronic databases for studies published between 1982 and 2018 was conducted. Studies written in English that focused on homicide victims aged 60 and over living in the community were included in the review.

      A total of 877 studies were identified in searches, and 33 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.

      This review was funded by the Research Strategy Fund at Royal Holloway University of London.

What the researchers found

      Elder homicide rates and elder homicide risk decrease with age, with most victims being younger within the older age group (60 to 75  years). Elder homicides are also more likely to take place in the home and involve female victims. The most frequently cited risk factors for elder homicide were social isolation, frailty and declining mobility.

      Offenders tended to be white, male, and younger than their victim. Victims also tended to be killed by someone they knew. Elder homicide was most often motivated by burglary or theft.

      Although this review identified several characteristics associated with elderly homicide, there was a lack of information on the specific risk factors needed to inform risk management strategies.


      This review was able to form a ‘profile’ of elderly homicide, which could impact policy, practice, and future research. However, a lack of identification and analysis of specific risk factors makes it challenging to design future interventions to address the issue.




Risk factors
Aspects making a condition more likely.

Related Web Resources

  • Rural and Tribal Elder Justice Resource Guide

    The United States Department of Justice
    Tribal and rural lands are home to many older adults. In the United States, the Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture teamed up to address issues of elder abuse in rural and tribal areas. This resource contains information about elder abuse and links to useful external resources for tribal elders and rural older adults. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Problem gambling and crime and its costs

    Gambling Research Exchange Ontario (GREO)
    Gambling addiction can lead to crime, which is costly for the justice system. People with gambling problems and people doing crimes have shared risk factors. View this resource for policy proposals for reducing gambling crime.
  • Environment

    Gambling Research Exchange Ontario (GREO)
    Having easy access to gambling venues can make you more likely to develop gambling problems. If gambling is socially acceptable in your environment or venues are attractive you might be additionally at risk. Read the resource for more information on environmental factors that affect your risk of developing gambling problems.
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