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Measuring Sexual Relationship Power Equity among Young Women and Young Men South Africa: Implications for Gender-Transformative Programming

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Introduction Measures used to assess equitable relationship dynamics, including the sexual relationship power scale (SRPS) have previously been associated with lower HIV-risk among young women, and reduced perpetration of intimate partner violence among men. However, few studies describe how the SRPS has been adapted and validated for use within global youth sexual health studies. We examined gender-specific psychometric properties, reliability, and validity of a SRPS used within a South African youth-engaged cohort study.Methods Young men and women (16–24 years) enrolled in community-based cohorts in Durban and Soweto (2014–2016) reporting a primary partner at 6-month follow-up completed a 13-item (strongly agree/agree/disagree/strongly disagree) South African adaptation of Pulerwitz’s SRPS (range 13–52, higher scores indicating greater sexual relationship power [SRP] equity). SRPS modifications were made using gender-specific exploratory factor analyses (EFAs), removing items with factor loadings <0.3. Cronbach alphas were conducted for full and modified scales by gender. Using modified scales, unadjusted and adjusted regression models examined associations between 1. relevant socio-demographic and relationship determinants and SRP equity, and 2. SRP equity and sexual relationship related outcomes. All models adjusted for education, age, site, and current employment.Results 235 sexually-active youth (66% women, median age = 20) were included. Mean scores across all 13 scale items were 2.71 (SD 0.30) for women and 2.70 (SD 0.4) for men. Scale Cronbach’s alphas were 0.63 for women and 0.64 for men. EFAs resulted in two gender-specific single-factor SRPS. Modified SRPS Cronbach alphas increased to 0.67 for women (8-items) and 0.70 for men (9-items). After adjusting for age, site and current employment, higher education remained associated with SRP equity across genders. In adjusted models, correlates of SRP equity included primary partnerships that were age-similar (<5 years older) and <2 years in length for women and living in Soweto and younger age for men. Greater SRP equity among women was also independently associated with no recent partner violence.Conclusions Results highlight important gender differences in SRP equity measures and associations, highlighting the critically need for future research to examine gendered constructions of SRP equity in order to accurately develop, validate and use appropriate measures within quantitative surveys.
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Closson K, Dietrich JJ, Beksinska M, Gibbs A, Hornschuh S, et al. (2019) Measuring sexual relationship power equity among young women and young men South Africa: Implications for gender-transformative programming. PLOS ONE 14(9): e0221554. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0221554.
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Measuring sexual relationship power equity among young women and young men South Africa: Implications for gender-transformative programming
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