Prevention Science

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 427–436 | Cite as

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

  • Marta I. Mulawa
  • H. Luz McNaughton Reyes
  • Vangie A. Foshee
  • Carolyn T. Halpern
  • Sandra L. Martin
  • Lusajo J. Kajula
  • Suzanne Maman


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.


Peer network influence Intimate partner violence Gender norms Men 



Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers R01MH098690 and F31MH103062. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study procedures and instruments were approved by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institutional Review Board as well as the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) Senate Research and Publications Committee. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Duke Global Health InstituteDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of Maternal and Child Health, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and Mental HealthMuhimbili University of Health and Allied SciencesDar es SalaamTanzania

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