What Works to Prevent Partner Violence? An Evidence Overview.


This document reviews the empirical evidence of what works in low- and middle-income countries to prevent violence against women by their husbands and other male partners. The purpose of the report is to help inform the future direction of DFID programming on violence against women with an eye towards maximizing its impact and ensuring the best use of scarce resources. The review focuses on efforts to prevent partner violence, rather than evaluating services that are available for victims. It prioritizes programmes that have been evaluated using rigorous scientific designs, emphasizing formal impact evaluation.

Chapter 1 summarizes the factors that have emerged from the scientific literature as associated with either perpetration or the experience of violence in intimate relationships. The chapter briefly describes the range of strategies being pursued globally to counter partner violence, and it assesses the degree to which current priorities are consistent with the needs of long-term prevention. The chapter concludes with a brief explanation of the methods that were used to gather and assess the research.

The bulk of the report consists of six substantive thematic chapters. The first three topics — gender-related norms, including notions of masculinity and female subordination (Chapter 2); exposure to violence during childhood (Chapter 3); and male alcohol abuse (Chapter 4) — were chosen because there is relatively strong evidence that these factors are contributing causes of partner violence. The practical implication is that interventions that successfully reduce these factors among individuals or in communities will also reduce the prevalence and severity of women's experience with partner violence.

The second two topics — women's economic empowerment (Chapter 5) and legal and justice systems (Chapter 6) — are reviewed because donors and advocates have long considered such interventions critical to violence reduction and have invested considerable resources accordingly.

Chapter 7 assesses the evidence base itself. How adequate are current studies for making judgements about future investments? What limitations prevent us from being able to draw firm conclusions about effectiveness? What evaluation gaps should be prioritized in the next generation of research?

The report concludes with a series of reflections on the way forward.


Heise, L. L. What Works to Prevent Partner Violence? An Evidence Overview. STRIVE Research Consortium, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK (2011) xvii+108 pp. ISBN 978-0-902657-85-2

What Works to Prevent Partner Violence? An Evidence Overview.

Published 1 January 2011