Derivation and validation of a short emergency department screening tool for perpetrators of intimate partner violence: the PErpetrator RaPid Scale (PERPS)

J Emerg Med. 2012 Feb;42(2):206-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2011.01.032. Epub 2011 Sep 29.


Background: There is no short screening tool for perpetrators of intimate partner violence (IPV), although one is needed.

Objective: To retrospectively derive and prospectively validate a brief screening tool for perpetrators of IPV: the PErpetration RaPid Scale (PERPS).

Methods: In the derivation phase of the study, we developed the PERPS based on historical data. The PERPS consists of three Yes/No questions about physical abuse of a partner. In the validation phase, we prospectively screened subjects during randomized 4-h shifts in a busy emergency department (ED). Subjects were asked to complete the newly derived three-question PERPS as well as the Physical Abuse of Partner Scale (PAPS), a 25-question Likert scale that is the gold standard for detection of physical abuse of a partner. The main outcome measures were sensitivity, specificity, predictive values, accuracy, and Cronbach alpha of the PERPS for internal consistency.

Results: The PERP Scale derivation was based on a 207-subject historical database, and resulted in a three-question PERPS. Validation was completed on a new set of 214 patients presenting to the ED during 52 randomized 4-h shifts. The prevalence of IPV perpetration using the PERPS was 47/207 (22.7%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 16-27). For the PAPS, prevalence was 56/207 (27%; 95% CI 20-32). Compared with the PAPS, the sensitivity of the PERPS was 66%, specificity 93%, negative predictive value 87%, positive predictive value 78%, with an accuracy of 85%. Cronbach alpha of the PERPS was 0.68. Age, gender, and race were not predictive of positive results on either scale.

Conclusion: We successfully derived and validated a three-question perpetrator of IPV scale that can be used in a busy ED or office setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spouse Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • Young Adult