Original Research

The profile of people reporting with low back pain to a resource poor clinic in Cape Town

D.L. Yates, J.M. Jelsma, R.E. Parker
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 66, No 2 | a61 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v66i2.61 | © 2010 D.L. Yates, J.M. Jelsma, R.E. Parker | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 January 2010 | Published: 06 January 2010

About the author(s)

D.L. Yates, University of Cape Town, South Africa
J.M. Jelsma, University of Cape Town, South Africa
R.E. Parker, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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In order to provide targeted information regarding understanding and  management  of  low  back  pain  (LBP),  it  is  necessary  to  understand  the life situation of patients. The objective of this study was to develop a profile of patients with LBP seeking care in an under-resourced area of Cape Town.The subjects were all patients attending a community health centre with a primary diagnosis of LBP. A self-designed questionnaire was used to gather relevant information such as BMI, smoking, physical activities at home and work and  potentially  stressful  life  events.  Questions  about  perceptions  of  LBP,  the role of health personnel, income and employment were included.  Subjects could also identify which information they would like to be given by their health care providers. Fifty  subjects  were  interviewed,  74%  were  female.  The  mean  ages  were  50.7  years  (SD  14.0)  and  54.1  years (SD  15.1)  for  males  and  females  respectively.  There  was  a  high  prevalence  of  smoking  and  obesity,  low  levels  of  education, and many reported high stress levels. There were a high percentage of manual workers and the nature of their activities could put them at risk for development and exacerbation of LBP. Few people knew what to expect with regard to the likely outcome of their pain and the majority identified the need for communication about the duration, prognosis, implications and management of LBP. Conclusion: A profile developed of the typical LBP patient in this community provided valuable information, which can be utilized to develop appropriate intervention strategies.


profile; low back pain; lack of knowledge; stress; communication; information


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