Detecting ongoing intimate partner violence in the emergency department using a simple 4-question screen: the OVAT. Academic Article uri icon


  • We wanted to prospectively evaluate the use of a brief screening tool for ongoing intimate partner violence (IPV), the OVAT, and to validate this tool against the present Index of Spouse Abuse (ISA). The design was a prospective survey during randomized 4-hour shifts in an urban emergency department setting. The scale consists of four questions developed based on our previous work. The ISA was compared as the gold standard for detection of present (ongoing) IPV. Of 362 eligible patients presenting during 75 randomized 4-hour shifts, 306 (85%) completed the study. The prevalence of ongoing IPV using the OVAT was 31% (95% CI 26% to 36%). For the ISA, the prevalence was 20% (95% CI 16% to 25%). Compared with the ISA, the sensitivity of the OVAT in detecting ongoing IPV was 86%, specificity 83%, negative predictive value 96%, positive predictive value 56%, with an accuracy of 84%. In conclusion, four brief questions can detect ongoing IPV to aid in identifying the victim.

publication date

  • June 2004