Background and objectives: Domestic violence is an important problem that is often not recognized by physicians. We designed a short instrument for domestic violence screening that could be easily remembered and administered by family physicians.
Methods: In phase one of the study, 160 adult female family practice office patients living with a partner for at least 12 months completed two questionnaires. One questionnaire was the verbal and physical aggression items of the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS). The other was a new four-item questionnaire that asked respondents how often their partner physically Hurt, Insulted, Threatened with harm, and Screamed at them. These four items make the acronym HITS. In phase two, 99 women, who were self-identified victims of domestic violence, completed the HITS.
Results: For phase one, Cronbach's alpha was .80 for the HITS scale. The correlation of HITS and CTS scores was .85. For phase two, the mean HITS scores for office patients and abuse victims were 6.13 and 15.15, respectively. Optimal data analysis revealed that a cut score of 10.5 on the HITS reliably differentiated respondents in the two groups. Using this cut score, 91% of patients and 96% of abuse victims were accurately classified.
Conclusions: The HITS scale showed good internal consistency and concurrent validity with the CTS verbal and physical aggression items. The HITS scale also showed good construct validity in its ability to differentiate family practice patients from abuse victims. The HITS scale is promising as a domestic violence screening mnemonic for family practice physicians and residents.