Effectiveness of Potential Interventions to Change Gendered Social Norms on Prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence in Uganda: a Causal Inference Approach

  • Damazo T. KadengyeEmail author
  • Samuel Iddi
  • Lauren Hunter
  • Sandra I. McCoy


Evidence of the effectiveness of programs to change gendered social norms related to intimate partner violence (IPV) is growing, but their potential to significantly impact actual occurrence of IPV at population level is lacking. We study whether modest changes in gendered social norms related to wife-beating can result in significant changes in the incidence of emotional, physical, and sexual IPV among ever married women in Uganda. We employ an imputation-based causal inference approach, based on nationally representative Demographic Health Survey data. The steps are (1) model the association between adjusted neighborhood norms and experiences of IPV using a random effects logistic regression model, (2) impute unobserved counterfactual probabilities of experiencing IPV for each woman while manipulating her neighborhood norms by setting it to different values, (3) average the probabilities across the population, and (4) bootstrap confidence intervals. Results show that statistically significant inverse associations between more prohibitive neighborhood IPV norms and women’s experiences of different forms of IPV at the population level exist. The effect is however small, that even if an entire community disapproves of wife-beating, incidence of IPV falls by about 10 percentage points to 48.5% (95% CI 46.0%–50.9%) from the observed value of 57.6% (95% CI 55.2%–59.9%). Furthermore, changes in neighborhood social norms are found to have no statistical significant effect on the incidence of sexual violence. In conclusion, changing gendered social norms related to wife-beating will not result in significant reductions in different forms for IPV at the population level.


Intimate partner violence Gendered social norms Wife-beating 



We wish to acknowledge the Ministry of Health of Uganda and Demographic Health Survey program, who granted us access to use the DHS data. Furthermore, we are grateful to the East Africa Social Science Translation Collaborative under the Center of Effective Global Action, University of California, Berkeley (EASST/CEGA), for having awarded the lead author the Fall 2017 EASST/CEGA Impact Evaluation Fellowship, during which manuscript preparation and statistical data analysis were carried out.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This is not applicable in this study. The paper utilized secondary data of the Demographic Health Survey program, and permission to use these publically available data was obtained from before data download and subsequent statistical analysis. As such, no ethical reviews and approvals were required before or during preparation of the present manuscript.

Informed Consent

This is not applicable in this study. This is a simulation-based manuscript based on secondary data of the Demographic Health Survey program. There was no interaction with human subjects during preparation of this manuscript.

Supplementary material

11121_2019_1010_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 16 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.African Population and Health Research CenterAPHRC Campus, Manga CloseNairobiKenya
  2. 2.Department of StatisticsUniversity of GhanaLegonGhana
  3. 3.Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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