An evaluation of screening questions for childhood abuse in 2 community samples: implications for clinical practice

D. Brett, B.D. Thombs, D.P. Bernstein, R.C. Ziegelstein, C.D. Scher, D.R. Forde, E.A. Walker, M.B. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


A number of practice guidelines and recommendations call for the assessment of childhood abuse in adult medical patients, but none specifies how best to do this. The objective of this study was to use evidence from 2 community-based population samples to evaluate abuse-screening questions that are often asked in medical clinics and to identify a small set of questions to improve screening practices. Methods: The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire Short Form (CTQ-SF) was administered in 2 randomized telephone interview surveys with adults aged 18 to 65 years. Results: A total of 880 (2003 survey) and 998 (1997 survey) respondents completed the CTQ-SF in the 2 surveys. In both surveys, the rates of physical (16% and 15%), emotional (31% and 29%), and sexual (10% and 9%) abuse elicited using 3 behaviorally descriptive items in each abuse category were approximately twice the rates elicited using the explicit labeling terms physically abused (8% and 8%), emotionally abused (15% and 13%), or sexually abused (5% and 5%) (P abuse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2020-2026
JournalArchives of Internal Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

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