An Examination of Measures Related to Children's Exposure to Violence for Use by Both Practitioners and Researchers

Published in: Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, Volume 13, Issue 4 (October 2012), pages 187-197. doi: 10.1177/1524838012454943

Posted on RAND.org on June 09, 2017

by Joie D. Acosta, Dionne Barnes-Proby, Racine Harris, Taria Francois, Laura J. Hickman, Lisa H. Jaycox, Dana Schultz

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Millions of children each year are exposed to violence in their homes, schools, and communities as both witnesses and victims. As a result, evidence-based programs for children and adolescents who have been exposed to traumatic events (CEV-EBPs) have been widely disseminated but rarely evaluated in their real-world applications. One crucial aspect of conducting such evaluations is finding appropriate measures that can be of use both to the practitioner and to the researcher. This review aims to provide guidance to the field by first identifying any gaps in the availability of psychometrically tested measures for certain outcome domains and age ranges and then recommending the measures that are most appropriate for use by both researchers and practitioners. Interviews with content experts in the measurement of trauma symptoms and parent-child relationships were conducted to identify the key outcome domains for measurement that are critical to the evaluation of CEV-EBPs and the criteria for dual-use measures, defined as measures that are useful to both researchers and practitioners. A database of 46 relevant measures was created by compiling measures from existing repositories and conducting a focused literature review. Our review of these measures found that existing repositories had few measures of depression, a major gap that should be addressed. Further, there were few measures for young children ages 0-3 years (n = 15) and only a handful of measures (n = 9) had both a child and parent version of the measure. Overall, although the different repositories that currently exist are helpful, researchers and practitioners would benefit from having a single reputable source (e.g., a centralized repository or item bank) to access when searching for measures to use in evaluating CEV-EBPs. Such a tool would hold promising to narrow the current gap between research and practice in the field of children's exposure to violence.

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