Associations Between Peer Network Gender Norms and the Perpetration of Intimate Partner Violence Among Urban Tanzanian Men: a Multilevel Analysis

Prev Sci. 2018 May;19(4):427-436. doi: 10.1007/s11121-017-0835-8.


Male perpetration of intimate partner violence (IPV) against women in sub-Saharan Africa is widespread. Theory and empirical evidence suggest peer networks may play an important role in shaping IPV perpetration, though research on this topic in the region is limited. We assessed the degree to which peer network gender norms are associated with Tanzanian men's perpetration of IPV and examined whether the social cohesion of peer networks moderates this relationship. Using baseline data from sexually active men (n = 1103) nested within 59 peer networks enrolled in an on-going cluster-randomized HIV and IPV prevention trial, we fit multilevel logistic regression models to examine peer network-level factors associated with past-year physical IPV perpetration. Peer network gender norms were significantly associated with men's risk of perpetrating IPV, even after adjusting for their own attitudes toward gender roles (OR = 1.53 , p = . 04). Peer network social cohesion moderated this relationship (OR = 1.50 , p = . 04); the positive relationship between increasingly inequitable (i.e., traditional) peer network gender norms and men's risk of perpetrating IPV became stronger, as peer network social cohesion increased. Characteristics of the peer network context are associated with men's IPV perpetration and should be targeted in future interventions. While many IPV prevention interventions focus on changing individual attitudes, our findings support a unique approach, focused on transforming the peer context.

Keywords: Gender norms; Intimate partner violence; Men; Peer network influence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Gender Identity*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / prevention & control*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Peer Group*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Social Norms*
  • Tanzania
  • Urban Population*
  • Young Adult