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Aggression and Older Adults: News Media Coverage across Care Settings and Relationships

  • Laura M. Funk (a1), Rachel V. Herron (a2), Dale Spencer (a3) and Starr Lee Thomas (a4)


Systematic, in-depth exploration of news media coverage of aggression and older adults remains sparse, with little attention to how and why particular frames manifest in coverage across differing settings and relationships. Frame analysis was used to analyze 141 English-language Canadian news media articles published between 2008 and 2019. Existing coverage tended towards stigmatizing, fear-inducing, and biomedical framings of aggression, yet also reflected and reinforced ambiguity, most notably around key differences between settings and relations of care. Mainstream news coverage reflects tensions in public understandings of aggression and older adults (e.g., as a medical or criminal issue), reinforced in particular ways because of the nature of news reporting. More nuanced coverage would advance understanding of differences among settings, relationships, and types of actions, and of the need for multifaceted prevention and policy responses based on these differences.


L’exploration systématique et approfondie de la couverture médiatique de cas impliquant des agressions et des personnes âgées est rare, et peu d’attention est accordée aux modalités et aux raisons pour lesquelles des situations particulières se manifestent dans divers contextes et relations. L’analyse de cadres a été utilisée pour examiner 141 articles de médias d’information canadiens de langue anglaise publiés entre 2008 et 2019. La couverture médiatique existante avait tendance à stigmatiser, à susciter la peur et à souligner le cadre biomédical associé à l’agression. Elle reflétait et renforçait également des ambiguïtés, notamment en ce qui concerne les principales différences entre les milieux et les relations de soins. La couverture de l’actualité est indicative des tensions retrouvées dans le public concernant la compréhension des agressions et des personnes âgées (par exemple, sur le plan médical ou criminel), tensions qui sont particulièrement intensifiées par la nature des reportages. Une couverture plus nuancée permettrait de mieux comprendre les différences entre les milieux, les relations et les types d’actions, ainsi que la nécessité d’une prévention multiforme et de réponses politiques tenant compte de ces différences.


Corresponding author

La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à : / Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to: Laura M. Funk, Ph.D. Department of Sociology and Criminology University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3T 2N2 Canada (


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We appreciate the research assistance of Ms. Sarah Todd and Ms. Olivia Peters, and funding from Mitacs Globalink and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.



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Aggression and Older Adults: News Media Coverage across Care Settings and Relationships

  • Laura M. Funk (a1), Rachel V. Herron (a2), Dale Spencer (a3) and Starr Lee Thomas (a4)


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