Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a crucial public health issue (WHO, 2013). IPV among older- adults is expected to rise as baby boomers age (Roberto et al., 2013). IPV imperils victims’ mental health (Carbone-López et al., 2006). Social support offers some protection against these susceptibilities (Ai, Pappas, & Simonsen, 2015). In addition, problem-focused coping may help them maintain sound relationships whereas emotion-focused coping may deter them from responding appropriately to stressful situations (Piazza et al., 2014). However, studies of older adults’ IPV, social support and coping skills and the impact are limited. Even rarer are studies on differences between male and female in later life. This study investigates 1) the impact of IPV on depression, 2) the impact of risk and protective factors on depression among older population, and 3) differences in these impacts between male and female older - adults.
Data were drawn from the graduate wave of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study and included community-dwelling adults ages 64-65 who completed both mail questionnaires and phone-interviews (N=6,125). A multi-group path analysis using Amos 25 was employed. Maximum Likelihood (ML) estimation was used. The dependent variable, depressive symptoms, was measured based on the CES-D (Radloff, 1977). The mean of the squared root was used due to high skewness and kurtosis. Experience of physical abuse from spouses/romantic partner was measured by asking, “Has your spouse or romantic partner ever treated you in a way that some would think of as physical abuse?” Social support was measured by four questions in WLS, with higher scores indicating higher levels of social support. Coping skills were measured by questions based on the Brief Cope (Carver, 1997). Problem-focused coping was measured by eight items and emotion-focused coping by ten. The control variables were health status, income and education. To investigate indirect effects, the 95% confidence interval estimated using 1,000 bootstrap samples.
Measurement invariance across male and females was examined by comparing unconstrained and fully constrained models (Cheung & Rensvold, 2002). Both models fit, and the multi-group analysis shows there are gender differences. The experience of IPV was significant risk factor for depression for both male and female. Social support and problem-focused coping were direct protective factors against depression for both. Emotional - coping was the risk factor for depression for both male and female. Higher income, higher level of education, and good perceived health were both direct and indirect protections against depression for both. The path of IPV to health status, and the path of income to social support was significant only for women.
IPV puts both male and female victims at severe risk for depression in later life. Health care professionals and practitioners should acknowledge these impacts and screen for experiences of violence, depressive symptoms, social support and coping styles to facilitate appropriate, timely intervention. Also, gender informed care is necessary.