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