An evidence-based assessment tool for estimating future post-traumatic stress disorder: A 7-year follow-up study




McFarlane, Judith
Maddoux, John
Paulson, Rene
Symes, Lene
Jouriles, Ernest N.

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Mary Ann Liebert


Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) affects up to one in three women across the world. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common outcome. Many, but not all, women suffer long after they first sought help for IPV. Validated tools for estimating the likelihood of future PTSD are lacking.

Materials and Methods: Women who sought IPV support services for the first time in 2011–2012 (N = 300) completed a seven-item screen for the presence or absence of clinically significant PTSD symptoms and the first assessment screening tool for post-traumatic stress disorder (FAST-PTSD), a tool designed to estimate future PTSD among women seeking help for IPV. Seven years later, in 2018, 271 (90%) women again completed the seven-item screen for clinically significant PTSD symptoms. A two-step binary logistic regression was conducted to determine the 7-year validity of the FAST for clinically significant symptoms of PTSD while controlling for baseline PTSD symptoms.

Results: More than 25% of the women reported clinically significant PTSD at 7 years. Baseline moderate- and high-risk scores on the FAST-PTSD were associated with clinically significant levels of PTSD. Moderate risk was associated with nearly two and one-half times (odds ratio [OR] = 2.4) the risk of clinically significant symptoms of PTSD, and high risk with nearly eight times (OR = 7.8) the risk of PTSD at 7 years.

Conclusions: PTSD is commonly associated with IPV and if untreated can compromise functioning of women and their children. The FAST-PTSD is a valid indicator of significant clinical PTSD symptoms 7 years following first contact with IPV support services. Using the FAST-PTSD to triage women at risk for sustained PTSD to early, preventive intervention may improve outcomes for women and their children.



Intimate partner violence, Mental health, PTSD, Screening


This is the abstract for an article that is available at Recommended citation: McFarlane, J., Maddoux, J., Paulson, R., Symes, L., & Jouriles, E. N. (2020). An evidence-based assessment tool for estimating future post-traumatic stress disorder: A 7-year follow-up study. Journal of Women's Health, 29(4), 520–523. This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author’s permission.