Geographic variation and determinants of help seeking behaviour among married women subjected to intimate partner violence: evidence from national population survey

Int J Equity Health. 2021 Jan 6;20(1):13. doi: 10.1186/s12939-020-01355-5.


Background: Help seeking behaviour amongst married women who experienced Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) has received limited attention in Africa. This study examines the geographic variation and investigates determinants of help seeking behaviour amongst married women in Ethiopia.

Methods: This study analysed data from the 2016 Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS). Data was extracted for married women age 15-49 years old who experienced IPV. Factors associated with help seeking behaviour were identified using multiple logistic regression adjusted for clustering and weighing. The weighted proportion of factors associated with help seeking behaviour was exported to ArcGIS to conduct autocorrelation analysis.

Results: The prevalence of help seeking behaviour among married women who experienced IPV was 19.8% (95% CI: 15.9-24.3%). Only 9.2% of them sought help from a formal source (such as police, lawyer or doctor). Multiple logistic regression analyses showed physical violence (Adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=2.76), educational attainment (AOR=2.1), a partner's alcohol consumption (AOR=1.9), partner's controlling behaviour (AOR= 2.4), partner's employment status, (AOR= 1.9) and wealth index (AOR=2.8) were significantly associated factors with help seeking behaviour among married women who experienced IPV in Ethiopia (P< 0.05). Women in Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella, Harari, Western and Eastern Amhara, and Afar had the lowest odds of help seeking behaviour (P< 0.001) after experiencing IPV.

Conclusion: The findings of this study suggest that poor help seeking behaviour for married women experiencing IPV is a significant public health problem in Ethiopia. Multiple interrelated factors were associated with poor help seeking behaviour. These factors include women's level of educational attainment, women experiencing physical violence, partners exhibiting controlling behaviour, partner's alcohol consumption, the employment status of the partner, and wealth status of the household were important predictors of help seeking behaviour. Policies and interventions need to be tailored to address these factors to improve women's health outcomes and to prevent IPV.

Keywords: DHS; Ethiopia; Geographic; Hierarchical logistic; Intimate partner violence; Married women.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethiopia
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Help-Seeking Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / psychology*
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Sexual Partners
  • Spouse Abuse / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult