The HITS screening tools is important because, unfortunately, studies show that nearly 30% of women deal with domestic violence at some point in their life. Domestic violence can be treated, but untreated abuse can result in abuse that continues to get worse, resulting in serious mental and healthy effects, and even life-threatening situations. One of the best ways to detect domestic violence and improve referrals to resources for victims of domestic violence is for primary care physicians to screen patients for domestic violence. The HITS Domestic Violence Screening Tool has been specifically developed as a short, efficient method of screening individuals for domestic violence.
HITS is an easy to use screening tool and scale that stands for Hurt, Insult, Threaten and Scream. The tool includes four questions that physicians can provide to women via a questionnaire to assess risk for Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). The questions can also be asked verbally. A series of questions are asked about how often the individual’s partner hurts, insults, threatens or screams at them. Individuals have five different answers they can selecting, including never, rarely, sometimes, fairly often and frequently. The answer for each question is given a point value, with 1 point for never, up to 5 points for frequently. The score on the tool can range between 4-20 points. Any score that is above a 10 shows doctors that the individual is suffering from abuse.
The HITS Screening Tool has been proven to be useful as a diagnostic tool. All primary care physicians should use tools like HITS, although only a small percentage of PCPs actually routinely screen patients for domestic abuse. Unfortunately, victims of domestic violence do not fit a specific profile or personality, which means that women of all socioeconomic classes, ethnicities, education levels and ages may be affected by abuse. This fact shows that universal screenings for abuse, using tools like HITS, will provide better results than trying to target a specific group of women.
HITS has been shown to be a valid, consistent scale/screening tool, making it an excellent way for primary care physicians to identify victims of abuse. By using the HITS Domestic Violence Screening Tool to help identify intimate partner violence cases, victims can then be directed to community resources for victims of domestic violence.
Several universities, health care centers and insurance companies provide access through their websites to a PDF formatted copy of the assessment tool. Here is a link to a PDF version through the Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, Texas: