Geospatial variations in the prevalence of intimate partner violence against women in low and middle income countries

Principal Supervisor: Dr Shino Shiode (Birkbeck, University of London)

Co-Supervisor: Prof Karen Devries (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)

Project Description


One in three women globally have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner (IPV) in their lifetime. Violence against women has numerous adverse health and social consequences, and the United Nations have identified the reduction of such violence as a priority subject.

The seriousness of IPV varies greatly within and between countries, yet almost no research to date has explored this geographical variation or the underlying factors in detail, especially using spatial modelling techniques.

Known individual-level risk factors for high IPV prevalence include social norms and attitudes supportive of violence, conservative gender attitudes, past experience of violence including child abuse, men’s alcohol use, and situational relationship characteristics. Some of these factors also vary geographically, but the extent to which the concurrent geographical variation in these factors can explain the spatial patterning of IPV is unclear.

In some countries, prevalence is higher in rural areas than in urban settings. At the country level, gross domestic product and gender inequality indices tend to reflect the prevalence of such violence. However, little is known about what other predictors exist and to what extent they affect IPV. Understanding these predictors could help find solutions to prevent and respond to IPV.


We will investigate the geospatial variations in women’s experience of physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence (IPV), identify any spatial concentrations and trends in these types of violence, and find any contributing factors associated with IPV prevalence.


The exploratory stage of the analysis will examine the spatial patterns of the IPV events at different geographical scales to identify the potential contributing factors, while the inference geo-spatial modelling stage will focus on the evaluation of these contributing factors. Potential factors behind the geographical variations include cultural, social, behavioural as well as urban and physical/environmental characteristics (e.g. local climate, deprivation level in the neighbourhood, and gender inequality indices). These data are available at regional and often also at a local level but they have not been analysed in terms of their possible impact on IPV prevalence so far.

The PhD study will begin in the academic year 2022/23 (October 2022). The studentship will cover home tuition fees and a stipend for up to 3 years. Applicants from outside of the UK may apply for this project. However, they will need to find means to cover the difference between the home tuition fees and the overseas through other sources.

Subject Areas/Keywords

Intimate partner violence (IPV), Violence against women, Gender based violence, Low and middle income countries, Geographic Data Science, Spatial Analysis

Key References

Devries, K. M., Mak, J. Y., Bacchus, L. J., Child, J. C., Falder, G., Petzold, M., … Watts, C. H. (2013a). Intimate partner violence and incident depressive symptoms and suicide attempts: a systematic review of longitudinal studies. PLoS Medicine, 10(5), e1001439. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001439.

Devries, K. M., Mak, J. Y., García-Moreno, C., Petzold, M., Child, J. C., Falder, G., . . . Watts, C. H. (2013b). Global health. The global prevalence of intimate partner violence against women. Science, 340(6140), 1527-8. doi:10.1126/science.1240937.

Gracia, E., López-Quílez, A., Marco, M., Lladosa, S. (2015). The spatial epidemiology of intimate partner violence: Do neighborhoods matter? American Journal of Epidemiology, 182(1), 58-66. DOI:10.1093/aje/kwv016. Heise, L and Kotsadam, A. (2015). Cross-national and multilevel correlates of partner violence: an analysis of data from population-based surveys. Lancet Global Health, 3(6):e332-e340.

Further details about the project may be obtained from

Principal Supervisor: Dr Shino Shiode (Department of Geography, Birkbeck, University of London) (

Co-Supervisor: Prof Karen Devries (Department of Global Health and Development, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) (

Further information about the PhD may be obtained from

Birkbeck College:

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine:

How to apply

The application will prompt you to confirm details of any scholarships or grants (for your proposed study at Birkbeck).

Please ensure you respond with: ‘Bloomsbury Scholarship’.

Please note that if this section is not clearly marked, your application may not be picked up for assessment.

1. Check that you meet the entry requirements, including English language requirements, as below:

If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.

Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

2. We request the following documents from each applicant:

  • Transcripts of relevant studies and – where appropriate – a letter from your course coordinator predicting the expected degree result (for those who still have to complete their current Master’s-level programme);
  • A sample of writing such as your MA dissertation, or similar.
  • You do not need to write your own research proposal. Instead, please state clearly in your application that you are applying for this specific project and use the Supporting Statement in the application to explain what attracted you to the project and why you are a suitable candidate for this research.

3. References

Referees will be automatically prompted to upload their references when you submit your application.

Please note that all references must be uploaded by 08/03/22. We strongly