Two Questions Can Often Detect Abusive Relations


SAN DIEGO – A formal, two-question screening tool identified significantly more pregnant women in abusive relationships than did questions formulated by physicians to conform to guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a study has found.

The two questions from the Women's Abuse Screening Tool (short form) are:

▸ In general, how would you describe your relationship? (A lot of tension, some tension, or no tension?)

▸ Do you and your partner work out arguments with a lot of difficulty, some difficulty, or no difficulty?

Dr. Tiffany A. Moore Simas and associates at the University of Massachusetts, Worcester, screened 136 prenatal patients with both the formal questions and informal physician prompts. (Guidelines from ACOG recommend asking about violence and trauma during prenatal visits; however, no formal questions are specified.)

Results were presented in poster form at the ACOG's annual meeting. Six patients (4.4%) who were experiencing intimate partner violence in their current relationships were identified by both screening methods. An additional 10 patients (7.4%) were detected only by the two questions from the Women's Abuse Screening Tool.

Six patients refused to participate in domestic violence screening. Of the total 16 patients in violent relationships, 5 separated from their partners during pregnancy.

Dr. Moore Simas and colleagues concluded that the two-question screen is “valid, reliable, easy, and unobtrusive.”

The other six questions in the long form of the Women's Abuse Screening Tool that may be used to make a more comprehensive assessment (answers for each are Occasionally, Sometimes, Never) are:

▸ Do arguments ever result in your feeling down or bad about yourself?

▸ Do arguments ever result in hitting, kicking, or pushing?

▸ Do you ever feel frightened by what your partner says or does?

▸ Has your partner ever abused you physically?

▸ Has your partner ever abused you emotionally?

▸ Has your partner ever abused you sexually?

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