Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Working with men to prevent intimate partner violence in a conflict-affected setting: a pilot cluster randomized controlled trial in rural Côte d’Ivoire

Mazeda Hossain1*, Cathy Zimmerman1, Ligia Kiss1, Tanya Abramsky1, Drissa Kone3, Monika Bakayoko-Topolska3, Jeannie Annan2, Heidi Lehmann2 and Charlotte Watts1

Author Affiliations

1 Gender Violence & Health Centre, Department of Global Health & Development, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK

2 The International Rescue Committee (IRC), New York, USA

3 The International Rescue Committee (IRC), Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:339  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-339

Published: 10 April 2014



Evidence from armed conflict settings points to high levels of intimate partner violence (IPV) against women. Current knowledge on how to prevent IPV is limited—especially within war-affected settings. To inform prevention programming on gender-based violence in settings affected by conflict, we evaluated the impact of adding a targeted men’s intervention to a community-based prevention programme in Côte d’Ivoire.


We conducted a two-armed, non-blinded cluster randomized trial in Côte d’Ivoire among 12 pair-matched communities spanning government-controlled, UN buffer, and rebel–controlled zones. The intervention communities received a 16-week IPV prevention intervention using a men’s discussion group format. All communities received community-based prevention programmes. Baseline data were collected from couples in September 2010 (pre-intervention) and follow-up in March 2012 (one year post-intervention). The primary trial outcome was women’s reported experiences of physical and/or sexual IPV in the last 12 months. We also assessed men’s reported intention to use physical IPV, attitudes towards sexual IPV, use of hostility and conflict management skills, and participation in gendered household tasks. An adjusted cluster-level intention to treat analysis was used to compare outcomes between intervention and control communities at follow-up.


At follow-up, reported levels of physical and/or sexual IPV in the intervention arm had decreased compared to the control arm (ARR 0.52, 95% CI 0.18-1.51, not significant). Men participating in the intervention reported decreased intentions to use physical IPV (ARR 0.83, 95% CI 0.66-1.06) and improved attitudes toward sexual IPV (ARR 1.21, 95% CI 0.77-1.91). Significant differences were found between men in the intervention and control arms’ reported ability to control their hostility and manage conflict (ARR 1.3, 95% CI 1.06-1.58), and participation in gendered household tasks (ARR 2.47, 95% CI 1.24-4.90).


This trial points to the value of adding interventions working with men alongside community activities to reduce levels of IPV in conflict-affected settings. The intervention significantly influenced men’s reported behaviours related to hostility and conflict management and gender equitable behaviours. The decreased mean level of IPV and the differences between intervention and control arms, while not statistically significant, suggest that IPV in conflict-affected areas can be reduced through concerted efforts to include men directly in violence prevention programming. A larger-scale trial is needed to replicate these findings and further understand the mechanisms of change.

Trial registration NCT01803932

Conflict; Impact evaluation; Violence prevention; Men; Intimate partner violence