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Intimate partner violence as a predictor of marital disruption in rural Rakai, Uganda: a longitudinal study



We assessed the association between intimate partner violence (IPV) and union disruption (divorce or separation) in the rural Ugandan setting of Rakai District.


We analyzed longitudinal data collected from April 1999 to June 2006, from 6834 women (15-49 years) living in 50 communities in Rakai. Participants were either officially married, traditionally married or in a consensual union during one or more surveys and completed at least one follow-up survey. The primary outcome was union disruption through divorce or separation from the primary sexual partner.


Past year IPV ranged from 6.49 % (severe physical abuse) to 31.99 % (emotional abuse). Severe physical IPV was significantly associated with divorce/separation, after adjusting for other covariates (aOR = 1.80, 95 % CI 1.01-3.22). Another predictor of union disruption was a woman having two or more sexual partners in the past year (aOR = 8.42, 95 % CI 5.97-11.89). Factors protecting against divorce/separation included an increasing number of co-resident biological children and longer duration of union.


IPV, particularly severe physical abuse, is an important risk factor for union disruption. Marital counseling, health education and interventions should address the role of IPV on the wellbeing of women and the stability of couples in Uganda.

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