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Child Abuse Negl. 2010 Oct;34(10):762-72. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2010.03.003. Epub 2010 Sep 19.

The development and validation of the protective factors survey: a self-report measure of protective factors against child maltreatment.

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University of Kansas, School of Education, 1122 West Campus Road, Room 316, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.



The objective of this study was to evaluate the internal structure of a self-report measure of multiple family-level protective factors against abuse and neglect and explore the relationship of this instrument to other measures of child maltreatment.


For the exploratory factor analysis, 11 agencies from 4 states administered the Protective Factors Survey (PFS), the Brief Child Abuse Potential Inventory (Ondersma et al., 2005), and another measure to establish content validity (N=249 participants). Exploratory factor analyses were conducted to obtain a small, integrated set of items that tap the targeted protective factors correlated with other theoretically important constructs. Correlations were computed to explore PFS criterion-related validity. Confirmatory factor analyses were conducted on an additional sample of 689 participants from 19 agencies across the United States.


Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses yielded a 4-factor solution, consisting of Family Functioning, Emotional Support, Concrete Support, and Nurturing and Attachment. Four measures were administered to assess constructs that were predicted to correlate negatively with the protective factors: child abuse potential, depression, stress, and maladaptive coping. The PFS was also predicted to correlate positively with adaptive coping such as use of emotional and instrumental social support and positive reframing. Overall, the PFS subscales were significantly related to these measures in the directions predicted.


The PFS is a valid and reliable instrument to measure individual differences in multiple protective factors in families. The measure is an easily administered tool that offers programs an alternative to costly, time-intensive measures.


The PFS offers community-based prevention programs a valid and reliable survey instrument that measures multiple protective factors. The subscales-Family Functioning, Emotional Support, Concrete Supports, and Nurturing and Attachment-can be used by practitioners to understand the service population more fully, inform services, and contribute to the evidence base of a protective factors approach. Practitioners can build on the strengths or protective factors in parents and select services to address areas that are less developed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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