Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Public Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Intimate partner violence against women in western Ethiopia: prevalence, patterns, and associated factors

Sileshi G Abeya1*, Mesganaw F Afework1 and Alemayehu W Yalew2

Author Affiliations

1 Departments of Reproductive Health, Population and Nutrition, School of Public Health, Addis Ababa University, P.O. Box 9086 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

2 Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2011, 11:913  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-913

Published: 9 December 2011



Intimate partner violence against women is the psychological, physical, and sexual abuse directed to spouses. Globally it is the most pervasive yet underestimated human rights violation. This study was aimed at investigating the prevalence, patterns and associated factors of intimate partner violence against women in Western Ethiopia.


A cross-sectional, population based household survey was conducted from January to April, 2011 using standard WHO multi-country study questionnaire. A sample of 1540 ever married/cohabited women aged 15-49 years was randomly selected from urban and rural settings of East Wollega Zone, Western Ethiopia. Data were principally analyzed using logistic regression.


Lifetime and past 12 months prevalence of intimate partner violence against women showed 76.5% (95% CI: 74.4-78.6%) and 72.5% (95% CI: 70.3-74.7%), respectively. The overlap of psychological, physical, and sexual violence was 56.9%. The patterns of the three forms of violence are similar across the time periods. Rural residents (AOR 0.58, 95% CI 0.34-0.98), literates (AOR 0.65, 95% CI 0.48-0.88), female headed households (AOR 0.46, 95% CI 0.27-0.76) were at decreased likelihood to have lifetime intimate partner violence. Yet, older women were nearly four times (AOR 3.36, 95% CI 1.27-8.89) more likely to report the incident. On the other hand, abduction (AOR 3.71, 95% CI 1.01-13.63), polygamy (AOR 3.79, 95% CI 1.64-0.73), spousal alcoholic consumption (AOR 1.98, 95% CI 1.21-3.22), spousal hostility (AOR 3.96, 95% CI 2.52-6.20), and previous witnesses of parental violence (AOR 2.00, 95% CI 1.54-2.56) were factors associated with an increased likelihood of lifetime intimate partner violence against women.


In their lifetime, three out of four women experienced at least one incident of intimate partner violence. This needs an urgent attention at all levels of societal hierarchy including policymakers, stakeholders and professionals to alleviate the situation.

Intimate partner violence; Women; Prevalence; Patterns; Factors