Intimate Partner Violence Risk Assessment: A Primer for Social Workers

February 1, 2014 | By Jill Theresa Messing and Jonel Thaller

British Journal of Social Work

Social workers are likely to encounter intimate partner violence (IPV) survivors and/or perpetrators within their practice due to the prevalence of this social issue and the negative
health and mental health consequences resulting from it. IPV risk assessments can be utilized by social workers in multiple service settings. A recent meta-analysis provided information on the IPV risk assessment instruments with the greatest predictive accuracy, but social workers need to know the most appropriate IPV risk assessment tools for use in their particular practice settings. Therefore, this paper provides social workers with summary information on the four risk assessment instruments that have the highest predictive accuracy—the Danger Assessment, the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment, the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment, and the Domestic Violence Screening Inventory. For social workers unable to use validated risk assessments, a summary of the risk factors is provided with a focus on opportunities for change within violent relationships. Finally, recommendations for which IPV risk assessment to use in various social work practice settings are outlined. The use of IPV risk assessment should be situated within an evidence-based practice framework, taking into account the best evidence of risk for future harm, clinical expertise and client self-determination.


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