Validating the TeenHITSS to Assess Child Abuse in Adolescent Populations

Philip G. Day, Sarah B. Woods, Leo Gonzalez, Rodolfo Fernandez-Criado, Amer Shakil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to establish the psychometric properties and diagnostic accuracy of the Teen Hurt-Insult-Threaten-Scream-Sex (TeenHITSS), a 5-item measure used to screen adolescents for family violence in clinical settings. Methods: Study participants included 251 adolescent participants (n=197 not at-risk subsample; n=56 at-risk subsample), recruited from ambulatory care clinics, a medical center at-risk referral clinic, and area shelters. Participants completed a cross-sectional survey, including the TeenHITSS and Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scales (CTSPC) questionnaires. We calculated internal reliability, validity, and sensitivity and specificity for the full sample and both subsamples for each screening instrument. Results: Concurrent validity between the TeenHITSS and CTSPC was strong (r=.71, P<.000). We determined an optimal cutpoint based on sensitivity and specificity for correctly identifying abuse victims as a score of one or greater on the TeenHITSS. The TeenHITSS also proved slightly superior to the CTSPC in differentiating between victims and nonvictims of adolescent abuse (AUC=.79 vs .73, respectively). Conclusions: The TeenHITSS screening tool performed as well as the CTSPC in correctly classifying at-risk and not-at-risk teenagers and offers much greater utility to providers by supplying an actionable cut score. The findings of this study suggest that TeenHITSS is a valid and reliable tool to screen for physical and sexual abuse in children ages 13 years and older in clinical settings and can help health care providers detect adolescent abuse and initiate intervention and prevention of future abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-19
Number of pages8
JournalFamily medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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