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Abuse, neglect and loss of dignity in the institutional care of older people: definitional issues


This study constituted part of a wider programme of research: The Abuse, Neglect and Lack of Dignity in the Institutional Care of Older People Research Initiative (PANICOA). The specific aims of this study were, with a focus on residential and nursing care, to map existing definitions/descriptions of abuse, neglect and dignity in institutional care.


2009 - 2010 

Research team

Martin Stevens (SCWRU)
Josie Dixon and Lucy Lee (National Centre for Social Research [NatCen])
Simon Biggs and Anthea Tinker (Institute of Gerontology, KCL)


Department of Health, Policy Research Programme, and Comic Relief


The team used a range of literature from various perspectives and fields. A workshop with an Older People and Carers’ Advisory Group and with key stakeholders discussed the mapping exercise.


The study concluded that the concepts of abuse, neglect and loss of dignity generally had a core meaning but there were many different refinements of this.



Biggs, S., Stevens, M., Tinker, A., Dixon, J. & Lee, L. (2009) 'Institutional Mistreatment and Dignity: toward a conceptual understanding. A paper for the Department of Health and Comic Relief' [pdf, 314 KB], London: King's College London; National Centre for Social Research.

Dixon, J., Biggs, S., Tinker, A., Stevens, M. & Lee, L., (2009), 'Abuse, Neglect and Loss of Dignity in the Institutional Care of Older People. A report for the Department of Health and Comic Relief' [pdf, 445 KB], London: National Centre for Social Research; King's College London.


Dixon, J., Biggs, S., Stevens, M., Manthorpe, J. & Tinker, A. (2013) 'Defining the “perpetrator”: abuse, neglect and dignity in care', Journal of Adult Protection, 15(1): 5-14.


The study informed the development of a prevalence study of abuse in institutional settings. Furthermore, it will inform the development of sound recording practices for local authorities and government returns.
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