A novel tool to assess community norms and attitudes to multiple and concurrent sexual partnering in rural Zimbabwe: participatory attitudinal ranking


Mavhu, W; Langhaug, L; Pascoe, S; Dirawo, J; Hart, G; Cowan, F; (2011) A novel tool to assess community norms and attitudes to multiple and concurrent sexual partnering in rural Zimbabwe: participatory attitudinal ranking. AIDS care, 23 (1). pp. 52-59. ISSN 0954-0121 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09540121.2010.490257

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Abstract

Concurrent sexual partnerships are important in understanding the evolution and maintenance of the HIV heterosexual epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. While it is possible to measure individual attitudes around sensitive behaviours through questionnaire surveys, studies suggest that responses may be subject to social desirability bias and may not reflect community norms. This study used a novel tool to collect data on community norms relating to the acceptability of concurrency in rural Zimbabwe. Six questions exploring general concurrency concepts and 28 scenarios in which multiple-partnerships might occur were developed and translated into Shona. Participatory attitudinal ranking (PAR), an approach adapted from participatory wealth ranking, was used to conduct group discussions (n=24) with 170 participants recruited in a household survey. Participants discussed and ranked scenarios according to the acceptability of the multiple-partnering described in the short accounts. Data analysis followed grounded theory principles. Qualitative data were examined against quantitative survey data collected from a representative sample of 18-44-year olds. While discussants indicated that concurrency was common among both males and females, self-reports from survey participants indicated that 37.1% of males (n=717/1931; 95% CI: 35.0-39.3%) and only 7.3% of females (n=215/2948; 95% CI: 6.4-8.3%) were in concurrent relationships suggesting under-reporting of this behaviour, particularly by women. We found that concurrency is an accepted community norm for men but never for women. Concurrency is considered more acceptable in specific social contexts, including infertility and lack of a male heir. Having protected rather than unprotected sex with a concurrent partner does not render this behaviour more acceptable. Using PAR, we managed to gain a more nuanced understanding of socially sanctioned concurrency, knowledge that could prove useful for improving behaviour change interventions targeting this behaviour. PAR allowed us to rank attitudes in terms of acceptability, which would enable us to compare attitudes between communities and evaluate changes over time.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: HIV, participatory, concurrency, women, Zimbabwe, QUALITATIVE DATA, WEALTH RANKING, HIV PREVALENCE, HEALTH, AFRICA, PREVENTION, BEHAVIOR, PARTNERSHIPS, EPIDEMIC, CULTURE
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
PubMed ID: 21218276
Web of Science ID: 286823300007
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/1155

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