Pedhitss: A screening tool to detect childhood abuse in clinical settings

Amer Shakil, Philip Day, Jessica Chu, Sarah B. Woods, Kate Bridges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Though child abuse is prevalent and detrimental, health care providers fail to screen for abuse at sufficient rates to detect or preempt events. Current child abuse screening tools lack brevity and usefulness in clinical settings. To validate the Pediatric Hurt-Insult-Threaten-Scream-Sex (PedHITSS) screening tool, a 5-item questionnaire designed to detect and prompt provider investigation into child abuse in clinical settings, the PedHITSS was compared to the Conflict Tactics Scale: Parent-Child Version (CTSPC) screening measure. METHODS: Participants included 422 pediatric patients (n=242 nonabused; n=180 abused subsample) recruited from an ambulatory care setting, a medical center at-risk referral clinic, or homeless shelter clinic. Parents were asked to complete a cross-sectional survey, including PedHITSS and CTSPC questionnaires. Concurrent validity of PedHITSS was tested with 242 participants identified as nonabused. Construct validity was assessed with 180 participants previously identified as victims of child abuse. RESULTS: Concurrent validity between the CTSPC and PedHITSS was strong, rs=.70 (P<.01). Sensitivity and specificity for correctly identifying abuse victims (≤12 years) was optimal at a cutpoint of one or greater. There was no significant difference in sensitivity and specificity of HITSS and CTSPC in correctly identifying victims of child abuse. CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates that PedHITSS performs as well as CTSPC in identifying and differentiating victims and nonvictims of child abuse. Ped-HITSS allows health care providers to confidently screen and report suspected cases of child abuse and serves as a mechanism to confirm abuse status through validated means.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)763-769
Number of pages7
JournalFamily medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


Dive into the research topics of 'Pedhitss: A screening tool to detect childhood abuse in clinical settings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this