Cross-sectional study of the characteristics of reported elder self-neglect in a community-dwelling population: Findings from a population-based cohort

Xin Qi Dong, Melissa Simon, Denis Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Scopus citations


Background: Elder self-neglect is an important public health issue. However, little is known about the characteristics of self-neglect and its association with social factors among community-dwelling populations. Objectives: (1) To examine the sociodemographic, health-related and psychosocial characteristics of reported elder self-neglect; (2) to examine the association of social network and social engagement with reported self-neglect. Methods: Population-based study conducted from 1993 to 2005 of community-dwelling subjects (n = 9,056) participating in the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP). Subsets of the CHAP subjects (n = 1,812) were identified for suspected self-neglect by the social services agency, which also assessed the severity. This reported group was compared with the unreported group in the CHAP across the sociodemographic, health-related and psychosocial variables. Logistical regressions were used to assess the association of social factors and self-neglect. Results: Older age, women, African-Americans, and those with lower education or lower income were more likely to be reported for self-neglect. Those reported for self-neglect were more likely to have lower levels of cognitive and physical function, nutritional status, psychosocial function and a higher number of medical comorbidities. After adjusting for confounders, lower levels of social network and social engagement were significantly associated with an increased risk of reported self-neglect. Among the reported cases of self-neglect, the study found increased trends of older age, women, African-American, lower income, lower cognitive and physical function, lower social engagement and a higher number of chronic medical conditions with self-neglect severity. Conclusion: Reported self-neglect elders have multiple sociodemographic, health- related and psychosocial characteristics that are different than elders not reported. Lower levels of social network and social engagement were associated with increased risk of self-neglect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-334
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2010


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


  • Aging
  • Cross-sectional study
  • Elderly
  • Population-based study
  • Self-neglect
  • Social engagement
  • Social network

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