Original Research

Exploring patients’ lived experience on the barriers to accessing low back pain health services

Morris Kahere, Khumbulani Hlongwana, Themba Ginindza
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 14, No 1 | a3523 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v14i1.3523 | © 2022 Morris Kahere, Khumbulani Hlongwana, Themba Ginindza | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 March 2022 | Published: 19 December 2022

About the author(s)

Morris Kahere, Discipline of Public Health Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Khumbulani Hlongwana, Discipline of Public Health Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; and Cancer and Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Research Unit (CIDERU), School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Themba Ginindza, Discipline of Public Health Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; and Cancer and Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Research Unit (CIDERU), School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Abstract

Background: The burden of chronic low back pain (CLBP) is a major concern to public health. However, the treatment of CLBP in primary care has shown to be ineffective in South Africa. Understanding the barriers encountered by patients in accessing CLBP healthcare services is paramount in the development of context-specific intervention strategies.

Aim: To explore the patients’ lived experiences on the barriers to accessing diagnostic, referral and treatment services for CLBP.

Setting: A health facility-based study conducted at five primary public hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Methods: A phenomenological study by means of in-depth interviews using the general interview guide approach. Interviews were conducted by a research assistant with relevant experience and qualifications in qualitative methods. A total of 15 participants were recruited to participate in this study. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Data were analysed iteratively until saturation was reached, where no new themes were emerging. All the transcripts were exported to NVivo 12 Pro for analysis.

Results: The results of this study identified the following barriers: travel, long waiting periods, shortage of personnel, poor infrastructural development, inadequate healthcare personnel, communication barrier, social influence, beliefs around cause and effect, misdiagnosis and inappropriate and/or ineffective treatment approaches.

Conclusion: This study concluded that barriers to patients’ accessing diagnostic, referral and treatment services exist. Efforts should be made towards developing health systems in underserved communities.

Contribution: This is the first study to be conducted in South Africa that explored the barriers associated with accessing healthcare services for chronic low back pain. Based on the results of this study, in order to improve health outcomes for low back pain there need to be a change of emphasis in primary health care by ensuring sufficient allocation of resources towards musculoskeletal disorders.


Keywords

chronic low back pain; barriers; access; diagnostic; CLBP treatment.

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