Protective Factors Survey (PFS)

Assessment Rating:
B – Psychometrics Demonstrated
See entire scale

FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention and the University of Kansas Institute for Educational Research and Public Service

Description / Purpose:

This measurement assesses the perceived presence of five protective factors in caregivers of children.

The Protective Factors Survey (PFS) is a 20-item pencil and paper survey that takes approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. The instrument is divided into two sections, the first is completed by program staff and the second is completed by the program participant. The participant portion of the survey contains a set of questions for capturing demographic information followed by the protective factors section—the 20 core items of the PFS. In the demographic section, participants are asked to provide details about their family composition, income, and involvement in services. In the protective factors section, participants respond to a series of statements about their family, using a seven-point frequency or agreement scale. The following protective factors are covered in the survey: Family Functioning/ Resiliency (5 items), Social Support (3 items), Concrete Support (3 items) , Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development (5 items), Nurturing and Attachment (4 items).

Target Population: Parents or caregivers of children participating in child maltreatment prevention or family support programs

Time to Administer: 10-15 minutes

Completed By: The parent or caregiver

Modalities Available: Pencil and paper survey and online

Scoring Information: Information on hand scoring is available in the PFS User’s Manual. The FRIENDS National Resource Center provides a database for managing and reporting on PFS data. The User’s Manual and database can be downloaded free of charge from the FRIENDS website.

Languages Available: English, Spanish

Training Requirements for Intended Users: There is no minimum degree required of administrators. Training protocols are provided in the manual ( Contact at the University of Kansas for information about individualized training on using the PFS. CBCAP leads should contact Casandra Firman at for information about training.

Availability: There is no cost for the instrument which can be obtained at

Contact Information

Company: The FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention
Name: Casandra Firman
Title: Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator
Phone: (360) 769-7167
Fax: (360) 769-6722
Company: Center for Public Partnerships and Research, University of Kansas
Name: Jacqueline Counts, MSW, PhD
Phone: (785) 864-5212

Summary of Relevant Psychometric Research

This tool has received the Measurement Tools Rating of "B – Psychometrics Demonstrated" based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The tool must have 1 published, peer-reviewed study that has established the measure’s psychometrics (e.g., reliability and validity, sensitivity and specificity, etc.). Please see the Measurement Tools Rating Scale for more information.

Counts, J. M., Buffington, E. S., Chang-Rios, K., Rasmussen, H. N., & Preacher, K. J. (2010). The development and validation of the protective factors survey: A self-report measure of protective factors against child maltreatment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 34(10), 762-772.


Participants — Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) and validation - N = 249. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) - N = 689

Race/Ethnicity — Not Specified


The exploratory factor analysis (EFA) included 45 items theoretically serving as indicators of 4 factors: Family Functioning (FF), Emotional Support (ES), Concrete Support (CS), and Nurturing and Attachment (NA). The most interpretable factor structure emerging from the EFA retained 27 items. Based on a combination of standard factor retention criteria, model fit, and interpretability, a 4-factor EFA solution was chosen as the most appropriate model for the retained items. Additional items were removed due to low loadings, nontrivial cross-loadings, and parsimony, yielding a final scale with 20 items. Coefficient alphas for three subscales were acceptable for FF = 0.94, ES = 0.86, and NA = 0.83. The coefficient alpha for CS (0.63) was below the acceptable range of 0.80. In the validity analyses, all 4 subscales of the PFS were significantly negatively correlated with child abuse potential and stress. In the confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), factor loadings using both maximum likelihood and weighted least square means and variance (WLSMV) solutions supported those of the initial EFA sample. Factor correlations in the CFA also remained consistent with those from the original sample. Results demonstrate that the factor structure generalized well to a new sample.

Date Reviewed: February 2015 (Originally reviewed in April 2011)