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Pediatrics. 2008 Jan;121(1):e85-91. doi: 10.1542/peds.2007-0904.

Screening for intimate partner violence in a pediatric primary care clinic.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 520 W Lombard St, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.



To estimate the prevalence of intimate partner violence among parents at a pediatric primary care clinic and to evaluate the stability, sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and likelihood ratios of a very brief screen for intimate partner violence.


A total of 200 parents (mostly mothers) bringing in children less than 6 years of age for child health supervision completed the Parent Screening Questionnaire in a primary care clinic. The Parent Screening Questionnaire, a brief screen for psychosocial problems developed for the study, includes 3 questions on intimate partner violence. Mothers then completed the computerized study protocol within 2 months. This included the Parent Screening Questionnaire as well as the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale. Different combinations of the intimate partner violence questions were evaluated against the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale.


A total of 12.0% of the mothers answered "yes" to at least one of the screening questions. On the standardized Revised Conflict Tactics Scale, responses ranged from 9% reporting a physical injury in the past year to 76% reporting psychological aggression. There was moderate stability of the screening questions. A single question, "Have you ever been in a relationship in which you were physically hurt or threatened by a partner?" in relation to the "physically injured" Revised Conflict Tactics Scale subscale was most effective. Sensitivity was 29%, specificity was 92%, positive predictive value was 41%, and negative predictive value was 88%. The positive likelihood ratio was 3.8, and the negative likelihood ratio was 0.77.


Intimate partner violence is a prevalent problem. A very brief screen can reasonably identify some mothers who could benefit from additional evaluation and possible services. Additional research is needed to find a more sensitive screen and to examine whether identifying intimate partner violence leads to interventions that benefit mothers, families, and children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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