Financial harm in the context of adult protection: the complexity of factors influencing joint decision making

Melanie Durowse (Lead / Corresponding author), Jane Fenton

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Purpose: This research was conducted as part of a PhD study. The purpose of this research was to explore the factors taken into consideration when multi-agency practitioners were considering financial harm in the context of adult protection and how this influenced their decision-making processes.

Design/methodology/approach: An adapted q sort methodology initially established the areas of financial harm considered to have additional factors, which led to complexity in adult protection decision making. These factors were further explored in individual interviews or focus groups.

Findings: The data identified that the decision-making process varied between thorough analysis, rationality, and heuristics with evidence of cue recognition, factor weighting, and causal thinking. This highlighted the relevance of Kahneman’s (2011) dual processing model in social work practice. Errors that occurred through an over reliance on system 1 thinking can be identified and rectified through the use of system 2 thinking and strengthen social work decision making.

Originality: This paper considers the practice of multi-agency adult protection work in relation to financial harm and identifies the influences on decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Adult Protection
Early online date19 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Feb 2024


  • financial harm
  • financial abuse
  • decision making
  • Q sort


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