Research article| Volume 21, ISSUE 2, P93-100, August 2001

Predictive validity of a screen for partner violence against women


      Background: While public health leaders recommend screening for partner violence, the predictive value of this practice is unknown. The purpose of this study was to test the ability of a brief three-question violence screen to predict violence against women in the ensuing months.
      Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study of adult women participating in the Colorado Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a population-based, random-digit-dialing telephone survey. During 8 monthly cohorts, 695 women participated in the BRFSS; 409 women participated in follow-up telephone interviews approximately 4 months later. Violent events during the follow-up period, measured using a modified 28-item Conflict Tactics Scale, were compared between women who initially screened positive and those who screened negative.
      Results: Among BRFSS respondents, 8.4% (95% confidence interval [CI]=6.3%–10.5%) had an initial positive screen. During the follow-up period, women who screened positive were 46.5 times (5.4–405) more likely to experience severe physical violence, 11.7 times (5.0– 27.3) more likely to experience physical violence, 3.6 (2.4–5.2) times more likely to experience verbal aggression, and 2.5 times (1.2–5.1) more likely to experience sexual coercion. In a multivariate model, separation from one’s spouse and a positive screen were significant independent predictors of physical violence.
      Conclusions: A brief violence screen identifies a subset of women at high risk for verbal, physical, and sexual partner abuse over the following 4 months. Women with a positive screen who are separated from their spouse are at highest risk.


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