Gender-based violence, has received increasing attention among researchers and international organizations. The adverse public health effects of gender-based violence include increased exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), gynecological fistula, unwanted pregnancy, psychological sequelae, chronic pain, physical disability, and depression and substance abuse. Additionally, there are negative social and economic impacts, including costs of medical treatment and lost worker productivity, of gender-based violence on survivors and their families. Stakeholders including policymakers and community organizations often seek to estimate the prevalence of sexual and intimate partner violence in an effort to garner support to address it or to more accurately tailor interventions. Prevalence of gender based violence is often estimated, but many existing estimates have severe limitations. Furthermore, the effects of questionnaire design on reporting of sexual violence have not been tested in developing countries or post-conflict settings as has been done in developed countries. A two-part study will be conducted to address these issues. In the first part we will analyze recent data from 23 countries using Demographic and Health Surveys, and in the second part we analyze new data from an original, randomized-design survey in Uganda.
The aims of our study are to (1) quantify bounds for underestimation in existing estimates of gender-based violence, including sexual violence in conflict, based on police reports and medical facility-based studies;(2) depict how women who report to medical, legal and social institutions after experiencing violence differ from women who do not seek care or report to better understand which groups are more likely to be included in current estimates of gender-based violence prevalence;and (3) test the effects of questionnaire design and fieldwork implementation on women's reporting of sexual violence using a randomized design. This study will be, to our knowledge, the first to evaluate the effects of questionnaire design on reporting o sexual violence in a developing country.

Public Health Relevance

This study will provide bounds of underestimation on prevalence estimates of gender-based violence produced from police reports or facility-based studies, offer a more complete understanding of how women who report or seek care differ from those who do not in an effort to inform programs and target interventions, and provide guidance on designing questionnaires to elicit more accurate responses regarding prevalence.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Small Research Grants (R03)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Pediatrics Subcommittee (CHHD)
Program Officer
Newcomer, Susan
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
State University New York Stony Brook
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Medicine
Stony Brook
United States
Zip Code
Palermo, Tia; Bleck, Jennifer; Peterman, Amber (2014) Palermo et al. respond to "Disclosure of gender-based violence". Am J Epidemiol 179:619-20
Palermo, Tia; Bleck, Jennifer; Peterman, Amber (2014) Tip of the iceberg: reporting and gender-based violence in developing countries. Am J Epidemiol 179:602-12