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Nurses' Experiences of the Encounter With Elder Neglect


  • Tova-Band Winterstein PhD

    1. Assistant Professor, Department of Gerontology and Department of Nursing, Faculty of Social Welfare & Health Sciences, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel
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Correspondence Dr. Tova Band-Winterstein, Department of Gerontology and Department of Nursing, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa, 31905, Israel. E-Mail:


Purpose: Nurses are on the front line in encounters with elder neglect. In spite of their significant role, they are not always aware of this. The purpose of this paper was to understand the meanings that nurses ascribe to elder neglect through their perceptions and professional experience with older people and to throw light on nurses' significant role in this encounter.

Design and Methods: An integrated review of the current literature was completed and 30 Israeli professional nurses working in long-term geriatric care facilities were interviewed using a semistructured interview guide. Interviews were tape recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data analysis was performed according to the phenomenological method.

Findings and Conclusions: Four major themes emerged: (a) neglect from the outside or neglect from within; (b) between professional and personal; (c) whose responsibility is this? and (d) professional values and ethics in the face of a neglecting reality. Findings are discussed in relation to the nurses' experiences of the encounter with elder neglect and the consequences of the phenomenon, such as increasing ageist perceptions and behavior.

Clinical Relevance: As the world experiences higher life expectancy, nursing education should be challenged with elder mistreatment in general, and elder neglect in particular. Training and educational programs should provide a platform on which to raise dilemmas concerning the encounter with this subject.

Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 2011; XX:X, XXX–XXX. ©2011 Sigma Theta Tau International.