Measurement brief: Measuring social norms

STRIVE Norms Measurement Brief.pdf

Social norms are unspoken behavioural rules shared by people in a given society or group; they define what is considered ‘normal’ and appropriate behaviour for that group. There is substantial evidence that social norms can influence a variety of health-related behaviours, including those related to HIV. Research on HIV and social norms has mostly focussed on four aspects of the norms/HIV nexus. These are (from the most to the least studied):

  1. condom use and sexual risk behaviour
  2. drug injection and needle sharing
  3. willingness to seek HIV testing
  4. access to and response of health services

However, norms can also influence upstream factors that affect individuals’ vulnerability to HIV, including factors such as:

  • women’s ability and willingness to leave abusive relationships
  • the ability of young people to resist alcohol advertising and promotion
  • the degree to which girls receive parental support to complete secondary school
  • the impact of stigma on individual’s willingness to disclose their status

This brief offers guidance to researchers who are not experts on social norms but want to capture information on norms as they relate to HIV and other health and development outcomes. Here, members of the STRIVE consortium provide techniques for collecting information on social norms in the context of studies designed to explore the structural drivers of HIV.


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