Screening for abuse in Spanish-speaking women

J Am Board Fam Pract. 2002 Mar-Apr;15(2):101-11.


Background: Domestic violence is a major personal and public health concern affecting women of all walks of life. Physicians have reported the need for screening instruments to help recognize abuse; several have been validated in English. No screening tools thus far have been validated in other languages.

Methods: We translated a previously validated tool, the Woman Abuse Screening Tool (WAST), into Spanish. To assess for validity, we compared responses of Spanish-speaking abused and nonabused respondents drawn from a community health center and a battered women's shelter. There were 27 women in the abused group and 34 women in the nonabused comparison group.

Results: The scale was found to be reliable with a Cronbach alpha of 0.91. The mean WAST Spanish scores were significantly different between the two groups, indicating this tool would be a valid screening instrument. A short form using the two most reliable questions was developed as a more rapid screening tool for office use, achieving a specificity of 94% and a sensitivity of 89%.

Conclusions: The Spanish version of the WAST successfully discriminated between Spanish-speaking nonabused and abused women. The short form might help physicians reliably screen for abuse in Spanish-speaking women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Battered Women
  • Community Health Centers
  • Domestic Violence / classification
  • Domestic Violence / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Mexican Americans / classification*
  • Mexican Americans / psychology
  • Public Health Practice
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • Translating
  • United States
  • Women's Health Services*