Intimate Partner Violence Risk Assessment: Predictive Ability & Application to Social Work
Methods: To date, multiple research studies have examined predictive ability of the Danger Assessment (DA), the Domestic Violence Screening Inventory (DVSI), the Kingston Screening Instrument for Domestic Violence (K-SID), the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment (SARA), and the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA). The average predictive validity weighted by sample size was calculated using the Receiver Operating Characteristic Area Under the Curve (AUC).
Results: The ODARA has the highest average weighted AUC (=.667, k=4) followed, from most to least predictive, by the SARA (AUC=.628, k=6), DA (AUC=.618, k=4), DVSI (AUC=.582, k=3), and K-SID (AUC=.537, k=2). The effect size for average AUCs for IPV risk assessment instruments is small, with the exception of a medium effect size for the ODARA (Rice & Harris, 2005).
Conclusions: Given the average AUC for these instruments, and consideration of their intended uses, it is suggested that social workers working with law enforcement officers or with offenders at the time of arrest use the ODARA. The DVSI is most appropriate for social workers working within the court system to assist with determinations about pre-trial release and may be useful for communicating risk to judges, prosecutors, and probation officers. The SARA has broader applicability for social workers who straddle criminal justice and victim services settings. The DA should be used by social workers employed in victim advocacy settings or those coming into contact with survivors in their professional capacity. The SARA and DA are more useful than the ODARA or the DVSI in determining targets for intervention. Social workers are in the unique position of identifying survivors’ risk from a variety of practice settings and can use risk assessment results as a means to communicate safety concerns and information about risk factors to IPV survivors as well as other actors within similar or complementary intervention systems.