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Alcohol use and intimate partner violence among women and their partners in sub-Saharan Africa

  • M. C. Greene (a1), J. C. Kane (a1) and W. A. Tol (a1) (a2)



Alcohol use is a well-documented risk factor for intimate partner violence (IPV); however, the majority of research comes from high-income countries.


Using nationally representative data from 86 024 women that participated in the Demographic and Health Surveys, we evaluated the relationship between male partner alcohol use and experiencing IPV in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Using multilevel mixed-effects models, we calculated the within-country, between-country, and contextual effects of alcohol use on IPV.


Prevalence of partner alcohol use and IPV ranged substantially across countries (3–62 and 11–60%, respectively). Partner alcohol use was associated with a significant increase in the odds of reporting IPV for all 14 countries included in this analysis. Furthermore, the relationship between alcohol use and IPV, although largely explained by partner alcohol use, was also attributable to overall prevalence of alcohol use in a given country. The partner alcohol use–IPV relationship was moderated by socioeconomic status (SES): among women with a partner who used alcohol those with lower SES had higher odds of experiencing IPV than women with higher SES.


Results of this study suggest that partner alcohol use is a robust correlate of IPV in SSA; however, drinking norms may independently relate to IPV and confound the relationship between partner alcohol use and IPV. These findings motivate future research employing experimental and longitudinal designs to examine alcohol use as a modifiable risk factor of IPV and as a novel target for treatment and prevention research to reduce IPV in SSA.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: M. C. Greene, Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 North Broadway Rm. 888, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. (Email:


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Alcohol use and intimate partner violence among women and their partners in sub-Saharan Africa

  • M. C. Greene (a1), J. C. Kane (a1) and W. A. Tol (a1) (a2)


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