This study compares the frequency at which ADR program staff are able to identify high-risk couples with a history of intimate partner violence (IPV based on whether they used an instrument that asked specific behavioral questions or an instrument that included only broader questions. To do this, the researchers had mediation program staff randomly use one of two screening tools: the Mediator’s Assessment of Safety Issues and Concerns (“MASIC”), a standardized behaviorally specific screen, and a less specific mediation clinic IPV screen created by the Multi-Door Courthouse (“MDC:”) in Washington, D.C. The main difference in the screening tools is how specific the questions are about behaviors. For example, the MDC screen asks, “Has there been violence in your relationship?” Instead of this broad question, MASIC asks parties ten specific questions about that violence, such as whether the other person has hit or punched them, burned them with something, slapped them, etc. Additionally, the MASIC screen, unlike the MDC screen, asks parties how often the behaviors occurred in the last year rather than asking only whether they happened at any point during the relationship.
The study found that parties were more likely to report physical violence using the MASIC screen. It was reported in 55.4% of MASIC-screened cases and only 38.8% of those in which the MDC screen was used. Further, the staff was much more likely to identify a case as high risk when using MASIC to screen for IPV than when using the MDC screening procedure. For either screen, staff recommended against the use of joint mediation in high risk cases at the same rate. This meant that though staff was just as likely to recommend against joint mediation when the case was determined to be high risk, more MASIC-screened cases were seen as high risk (21.37% v 11.45% for MDC-screened cases) and thus more of these cases were considered to be unsuitable for joint mediation.
The study involved 741 individuals (330 pairs and 81 individuals) who were referred to family mediation at the Multi-Door Courthouse in Washington, DC.
Please note this resource is online but is behind a paywall and requires a subscription to access.