Original Research

The prevalence and psychosocial risk factors of chronic low back pain in KwaZulu-Natal

Morris Kahere, Themba Ginindza
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 14, No 1 | a3134 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v14i1.3134 | © 2022 Morris Kahere | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 July 2021 | Published: 25 January 2022

About the author(s)

Morris Kahere, Discipline of Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Themba Ginindza, Discipline of Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background: Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is the leading cause of disability and has been extensively investigated in high-income countries (HICs), with little done in low-and middle-income countries. Biomechanical stressors do not have a major pathogenic role, but psychosocial predisposition is important. The occurrence and progression of CLBP are significantly affected by psychosocial risk factors. Guidelines recommend the early identification of psychosocial factors that could predict CLBP.

Aim: To determine the prevalence and psychosocial risk factors for CLBP amongst adults in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Setting: The study was conducted at five randomly selected public hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal.

Methods: Analytical cross-sectional hospital-based study utilising a self-administered questionnaire to collect data on (1) sociodemographic, (2) disability, (3) fear-avoidance beliefs and (4) illness behaviour. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) 24.0 was used for data cleaning and descriptive statistics. Chi-square test was used for categorical variables. Standard Edition of the Statistical Software for Data Science version 17.0 (STATA 17.0 SE) was used to identify risk factors using the logistic regression analysis. A p-value of ≤ 0.05 was deemed statistically significant.

Results: Overall prevalence of CLBP was 22.2% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 18.8–25.9). Females had a higher prevalence of CLBP than males, 23.9% (95% CI: 19.4–28.9) and 19.7% (95% CI: 14.8–25.5), respectively; however, the difference was not significant p = 0.243. The multivariate regression analysis identified the following risk factors: female gender, middle-aged adults 38–47 years, obesity, disease conviction, affective disturbance, denial and fear-avoidance behaviour-work subscale.

Conclusion: There is a high prevalence of CLBP amongst the study participants. Psychosocial factors (disease conviction, affective disturbance and fear-avoidance behaviour about work) are significant predictors of CLBP.


chronic low back pain; risk factors; psychological predictors; prevalence; KwaZulu-Natal


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Crossref Citations

1. “Blue flags” of pain such as an important factor, has been influenced in the chronification of the low back pain
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doi: 10.17816/nb321283