Associations between intimate partner violence and health among men who have sex with men: a systematic review and meta-analysis

PLoS Med. 2014 Mar 4;11(3):e1001609. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001609. eCollection 2014 Mar.


Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) among men who have sex with men (MSM) is a significant problem. Little is known about the association between IPV and health for MSM. We aimed to estimate the association between experience and perpetration of IPV, and various health conditions and sexual risk behaviours among MSM.

Methods and findings: We searched 13 electronic databases up to 23 October 2013 to identify research studies reporting the odds of health conditions or sexual risk behaviours for MSM experiencing or perpetrating IPV. Nineteen studies with 13,797 participants were included in the review. Random effects meta-analyses were performed to estimate pooled odds ratios (ORs). Exposure to IPV as a victim was associated with increased odds of substance use (OR = 1.88, 95% CI(OR) 1.59-2.22, I² = 46.9%, 95% CI(I)² 0%-78%), being HIV positive (OR = 1.46, 95% CI(OR) 1.26-1.69, I² = 0.0%, 95% CI(I)² 0%-62%), reporting depressive symptoms (OR = 1.52, 95% CI(OR) 1.24-1.86, I² = 9.9%, 95% CI(I)² 0%-91%), and engagement in unprotected anal sex (OR = 1.72, 95% CI(OR) 1.44-2.05, I² = 0.0%, 95% CI(I)² 0%-68%). Perpetration of IPV was associated with increased odds of substance use (OR = 1.99, 95% CI(OR) 1.33-2.99, I² = 73.1%). These results should be interpreted with caution because of methodological weaknesses such as the lack of validated tools to measure IPV in this population and the diversity of recall periods and key outcomes in the identified studies.

Conclusions: MSM who are victims of IPV are more likely to engage in substance use, suffer from depressive symptoms, be HIV positive, and engage in unprotected anal sex. MSM who perpetrate IPV are more likely to engage in substance use. Our results highlight the need for research into effective interventions to prevent IPV in MSM, as well as the importance of providing health care professionals with training in how to address issues of IPV among MSM and the need to raise awareness of local and national support services.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult