Objective: To compare the Women's Experience with Battering Scale (WEB) with the Index of Spouse Abuse-Physical Scale (ISA-P) as screening tools to identify intimate partner violence (IPV).
Methods: We conducted a large cross-sectional survey of women age 18 to 65 attending one of two family practice clinics from 1997 to 1998. All women completed both the WEB and the ISA-P and a telephone interview. We figured agreement estimates between the two tools, used stratified analyses to evaluate attributes of those more likely to screen as battered or physically assaulted, and compared associations between the WEB and ISA-P and a range of mental and physical health indicators known to be associated with IPV.
Results: 18% of 1152 eligible women surveyed had experienced IPV in a current or most recent intimate relationship with a male partner; 17% had been battered (WEB+), and 10% had been physically assaulted (ISA-P+). Had we used the ISA-P alone to assess IPV, we would have missed almost 45% of IPV. As anticipated, the ISA-P was more strongly associated with IPV-associated injuries and number of physician visits in the last year. The WEB was more strongly associated with self-perceived mental health, anxiety, depression, drug abuse, and low social support.
Conclusion: Clinicians need validated screening tools to rapidly and reliably screen patients for IPV. Most screening tools assess physical violence and injury without considering the more chronic experience of battering and the psychological terror associated with this violence. The WEB may identify more abused women than tools measuring physical assaults.