Concept Mapping: Engaging Urban Men to Understand Community Influences on Partner Violence Perpetration


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant health concern rooted in community experiences and other social determinants. The purpose of this study is to understand community-based risk and protective factors of IPV perpetration through participatory research that engages men who use IPV. Secondarily, we assess the relative influence, as measured by ranking, of these factors regarding risk of IPV perpetration and stress. We conducted concept mapping with Baltimore men (n = 28), ages 18 and older, enrolled in an abuse intervention program (AIP), through partnership with a domestic violence agency. Concept mapping, a three-phase participatory process, generates ideas around an issue then visually presents impactful domains via multi-dimensional scaling and hierarchical clustering. Most participants were Black (87.5%) and 20–39 years old (75%). Seven key domains, or clusters, were established. “No hope for the future” was the greatest contributor to IPV perpetration. “Socioeconomic struggles” (i.e., lack of employment) and “life in Baltimore” (i.e., homicide) were most likely to result in stress. Emergent domains related to IPV perpetration and stress were ranked similarly, but with some nuance. Having good support systems (i.e., family, community centers) were felt to prevent IPV and reduce stress. This participant-driven process among a primarily young, Black sample of Baltimore men speaks to the influence of perceived social disempowerment and underlying trauma on intimate relationships and the potential for mitigation. Few studies have engaged men who use IPV through participatory research to understand the comprehensive dynamics of an impoverished, urban environment. Results provide direction for community-based intervention and prevention programming to increase self-efficacy, particularly among younger men, and to enact trauma-informed violence prevention policy from the perspectives of male IPV perpetrators.

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We gratefully acknowledge the Gateway Project and administrative staff at House of Ruth Maryland, Baltimore, MD, for their partnership and invaluable support with this study. John Miller, Guy Matthews, and Anne Marie Brokmeier provided invaluable research assistance. We also thank Drs. Patricia O’Campo and Alisa Velonis for their research guidance.

This study was supported with funding from the Urban Health Institute at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Holliday), Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (T76MC00003), National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (T32HD06442), and National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (1L60MD012089-01—Holliday).

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Correspondence to Charvonne N. Holliday.

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The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Institutional Review Board approved all data collection procedures.

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Holliday, C.N., Morse, S.M., Irvin, N.A. et al. Concept Mapping: Engaging Urban Men to Understand Community Influences on Partner Violence Perpetration. J Urban Health 96, 97–111 (2019).

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  • Intimate partner violence
  • Violence perpetration
  • Social determinants
  • Urban health
  • Concept mapping
  • Men
  • Participatory research