Cincinnati--The Women's Health Program at the University of
Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine is creating a pilot program to
better understand and address domestic abuse of older women, a
significantly underreported problem in the United States. According to
the 1998 report The National Elder Abuse Incidence Study
by the U.S. Administration on Aging, for every one substantiated case
of elder abuse, there are more than five times as many unreported
incidents and older women are abused at significantly higher rates than
"Domestic abuse is a widespread national problem,"
said Barbara Rinto, MPA, administrator of the Women's Health Program.
"In the last 25 years there has been a serious attempt across this
country to address the problem and there has been some real success in
providing women options to enhance their safety. However, insufficient
attention has been paid to older women in this situation."
to experts, older women are reluctant to report abuse because of
generational differences in values including the unacceptability of
divorce and more traditional male and female roles. Health care
providers view domestic violence as exclusively a younger women's
problem because the reported incidence of domestic violence falls with
increases in age and most community domestic violence programs are not
yet equipped to deal with the older women.
The Women's Health
Program is developing a pilot program to increase the identification of
older women who are victims of domestic abuse in the Tristate and
connect them to the appropriate resources both within UC and the
community. The pilot will be developed in collaboration with faculty
from the UC Department of Family Medicine, the Office of Geriatric
Medicine, and Women Helping Women Inc., a non-profit community
organization providing a wide range of services for victims of assault,
domestic violence and stalking. The pilot program will consist of three
primary components, including improved screening and referral of older
women; training of physicians and other professionals in the unique
needs of older women; and outreach to community leaders and older women
to increase their awareness.
"This program is unique because it
has a community, academic and multi-disciplinary focus," Rinto said.
"It crosses departments and disciplines while bridging the community
and the university. Collaboration assures that new information about
this problem will be translated into new services and practices more
The program received a grant of $195,000 from Ohio
Attorney General Betty Montgomery to put toward the development of the
pilot. The money came from a $34 million antitrust settlement the
attorney general's office negotiated with shoe manufacturer Nine West
Group Inc. last year. All 50 states and six territories signed and
participated in the settlement. Ohio received $1.24 million. Montgomery
led the multistate lawsuit against Nine West after allegations were
made of price-fixing between the shoe company and its retail stores.
Evidence showed customers were denied an open and competitive shoe
market and therefore paid higher prices for shoes. Since most of the
customers harmed by this illegal conduct were women, distribution of
the settlement money was targeted to organizations or programs
benefiting women's health, education, vocational or safety programs.
money given to the UC Women's Health Program is one of the largest
gifts we've been able to give," Montgomery said during the check
presentation to Rinto and the Women's Health Program. "We can't be
happier to give it to such a great cause. There is no better way to
spend this money than helping women overcome obstacles and believing in
The Women's Health Program was started in 1997 with
support from the UC College of Medicine Dean's Office. The program is
one of just two programs in Ohio working in a college of medicine to
assure women's health issues and gender-specific medicine are addressed
in medical education, research and clinical care.