Scoring Interpersonal Violence Measures: Methodological Considerations.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Interpersonal violence, such as intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and adverse childhood experiences, is a significant global health concern. A major challenge to nurses and others working in the field of interpersonal violence deals with the complexity involved in measuring interpersonal violence. Numerous validated instruments exist; however, there is no standard approach for scoring these instruments. There is also a tendency to examine different forms of violence separately, not accounting for the known co-occurrence of violence. This has led to confusion as the interpretation of results often differs depending on the specific method used.


The purpose of this article is to summarize the major methods for scoring interpersonal violence measures and implications of each approach with a specific focus on co-occurrence.


The article begins with a summary of the primary goals of measuring interpersonal violence, major methods for scoring interpersonal violence measures, along with scoring challenges. We then provide a case exemplar examining the relationship between interpersonal violence and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms to illustrate how scoring methods can affect study results and interpretation of findings.


Our article shows that each scoring method provides a different picture of the distribution of interpersonal violence experiences and varies regarding the ease of interpretation. Scoring methods also affect interpretation of associations between interpersonal violence and other factors, such as having statistical power to detect significant associations. Accounting for the co-occurrence is critical for making accurate inferences by identifying potential confounding interactions between different types of violence.


The application of different scoring methods leading to varying interpretations highlights the need for researchers to be purposeful when selecting a method and even applying multiple methods when possible. Recommendations are provided to assist researchers and providers when making decisions about the use of scoring methods in different contexts.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Williams, JR; Burton, CW; Anderson, JC; Gonzalez-Guarda, RM

Published Date

  • November 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 69 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 466 - 475

PubMed ID

  • 32649392

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8014991

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1538-9847

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0029-6562

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/nnr.0000000000000461


  • eng