Original Research

Community-based rehabilitation workers’ perspectives of wheelchair provision in Uganda: A qualitative study

Nikola Seymour, Martha Geiger, Elsje Scheffler
African Journal of Disability | Vol 8 | a432 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v8i0.432 | © 2019 Nikola Seymour, Martha Geiger, Elsje Scheffler | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 September 2017 | Published: 24 April 2019

About the author(s)

Nikola Seymour, Centre for Rehabilitation Studies, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Martha Geiger, Centre for Rehabilitation Studies, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Elsje Scheffler, Centre for Rehabilitation Studies, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa


Background: The challenges of wheelchair provision and use in less resourced settings are the focus of global efforts to enhance wheelchair service delivery. The shortage of professional wheelchair service providers in these settings necessitates the collaboration of multiple stakeholders, including community-based rehabilitation (CBR) workers, whose role needs to be further understood.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine what CBR workers in three areas of Uganda perceived as (1) the challenges with wheelchair provision and use, (2) the factors contributing to these challenges, (3) the role they themselves can potentially play and (4) what facilitators they need to achieve this.

Method: This qualitative study in the transformative paradigm comprised focus group discussions to gather perceptions from 21 CBR workers in three areas of Uganda, each with an operational wheelchair service, participant observations and field notes. Thematic analysis of data was implemented.

Results: Community-based rehabilitation workers’ perceptions of challenges were similar while perceived causes of challenges differed as influenced by location, historical and current wheelchair availability and the CBR workers’ roles. Their main responsibilities included assistance in overcoming barriers to access the service, transfer of skills and knowledge related to wheelchairs, follow-up of users for wheelchair-related problem-solving, and user and community empowerment.

Conclusion: Community-based rehabilitation workers can contribute in various ways to wheelchair service delivery and inclusion of wheelchair users; however, their capabilities are not consistently applied. Considering the diversity of contextual challenges, CBR workers’ range of responsive approaches, knowledge of networks and ability to work in the community make their input valuable. However, to optimise their contribution, specific planning for their training and financial needs and effective engagement in the wheelchair services delivery system are essential.


wheelchairs; less resourced settings; community-based rehabilitation; wheelchair service provision; service steps; Uganda; empowerment; inclusion; assistive device


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