Brief Intimate Partner Violence Screening Tool Proves Effective

The percentage of intimate partner violence victims and perpetrators in substance abuse treatment is estimated at about 50%. This alarmingly high rate has prompted the inclusion of partner violence screening at patient intake. Currently, the most commonly used assessment tools for partner violence in substance use treatment facilities are the Conflict Tactics Scales (CTS) and the Revised Conflict Tactics Scales (CTS2).

Although these two measures have proven to highly effective at identifying victims and perpetrators of intimate partner violence, they are perceived as cumbersome and challenging by some mental health staff members for a variety of reasons. First, although they are supposed to be brief, they take nearly 10 minutes to administer, which is a significant amount of time considering total intake lasts only about 45 minutes. Second, many staff members are uncomfortable addressing partner violence with clients and may avoid use of such intimate questions, putting victims at further risk, and raising the likelihood of future perpetration to go unreported.

The consequences of intimate partner violence are many for the victim, including depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and substance misuse. For the perpetrator, future violence, aggression, externalizing, and substance use are also risk factors associated with intimate partner violence. These negative outcomes underscore the importance of a brief yet effective partner violence assessment tool.  To achieve this, Fleur L. Kraanen of the Department of Clinical Psychology at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and her colleagues developed a short screening tool called the Jellinek Inventory for assessing Partner Violence (J-IPV). The tool has two questions regarding victimization, followed by two questions addressing perpetration. It takes two minutes to complete.

Using a sample of approximately 100 adults receiving treatment for substance abuse, Kraanen and her team compared results of the J-IPV to those of the CTS2 and found a high reliability rate. The J-IPV was easy to administer and because the first two questions addressed victimization, was a more comfortable approach for staff members. Further, the J-IPV took very little time and did identify those at risk for perpetration and victimization.

Some facilities do not offer adequate services for perpetrators, and thus may see the current testing strategies as unnecessary. But Kraanen said, “On the contrary, since it is known that IPV is prevalent in patients in substance abuse treatment, we consider it unethical not to screen for IPV in substance abuse treatment facilities.” She hopes that implementation of the J-IPV will allow for more routine and consistent testing among all clients receiving treatment for substance issues.

Kraanen, F.L., Vedel, E., Scholing, A., Emmelkamp, P.M.G. (2013). Screening on Perpetration and Victimization of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): Two Studies on the Validity of an IPV Screening Instrument in Patients in Substance Abuse Treatment. PLoS ONE 8(5): e63681. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063681

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  • bella


    May 27th, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    if its about preventing partner violence and protecting the victims,how is it a bad thing?I know people have concerns and dont want to be questions about things,but really,when you check in for substance issues,you have more things to worry than just a few questions about partner violence.

  • ChriStine


    May 28th, 2013 at 4:02 AM

    Good for you and for this program! Yes, this is a problem among abusers, and the more that can be done to help address this issue while they are in treatment, all the better. If they are struggling when they get home, if this is something that has been addressed already then the hopes are that they will not fall back into this same pattern of behavior later on.

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