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June 2004Vol. 5, No. 5Reliability of U.S. Military's Family Violence Assessment Tool

Results of two studies indicate that the U.S. Air Force Family Advocacy Program's Family Violence Severity Index (USAF-FAP Severity Index) has fair-to-good levels of reliability. These findings suggest that, with some refinements, the Index could be more widely used to assess the severity of all forms of partner and child maltreatment.

The U.S. Military's Family Advocacy Program (FAP), America's largest child and family maltreatment agency, has long used the FAP Severity Index to assess the severity of child maltreatment (physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; neglect) and partner maltreatment (physical, sexual, or emotional abuse). Despite its wide use in the military, no studies had previously been conducted to test its reliability. Researchers recently conducted two studies to determine the consistency of severity ratings between at least two clinicians for any given case.

Researchers concluded that the USAF-FAP Severity Index is a clinician-friendly measure that comprehensively assesses the severity of all forms of partner and child maltreatment. Although reliability was not excellent, the researchers indicated that with refinements such as more explicit guidelines and training materials for caseworkers, the index could be used universally to measure the severity of maltreatment.

The full text of the article, "Severity of Partner and Child Maltreatment: Reliability of Scales Used in America's Largest Child and Family Protection Agency," is available from Kluwer Online in the April 2004 issue of the Journal of Family Violence, Vol. 19(2) (