Original Research

Access to primary care for persons with spinal cord injuries in the greater Gaborone area, Botswana

Thato M.M. Paulus-Mokgachane, Surona J. Visagie, Gubela Mji
African Journal of Disability | Vol 8 | a539 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v8i0.539 | © 2019 Thato M.M. Paulus-Mokgachane, Surona J. Visagie, Gubela Mji | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 June 2018 | Published: 23 September 2019

About the author(s)

Thato M.M. Paulus-Mokgachane, Spinal cord injury rehabilitation Unit, Princess Marina Hospital, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana
Surona J. Visagie, Centre for Rehabilitation Studies, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Gubela Mji, Centre for Rehabilitation Studies, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


Background: People with spinal cord injury (SCI) often have great need for healthcare services, but they report access challenges. Primary care access to people with SCI has not been explored in Botswana.

Objective: This study aimed to identify barriers and facilitators that users with spinal cord injuries experience in accessing primary care services in the greater Gaborone area, Botswana.

Methods: A quantitative, cross-sectional, observational study was conducted. Data were collected with a structured questionnaire from 57 participants with traumatic and non-traumatic SCI. Descriptive and inferential analysis was performed.

Results: The male to female ratio was 2.8:1. The mean age of participants was 40 years (standard deviation 9.59). Road traffic crashes caused 85% of the injuries. Most participants visited primary care facilities between 2 and 10 times in the 6 months before the study. Participants were satisfied with the services (63%) and felt that facilities were clean (95%) and well maintained (73.5%). Preferential treatment, respect, short waiting times and convenient hours facilitated satisfaction with services. Availability was hampered by insufficient provider knowledge on SCI as indicated by 71.9% of participants, and shortage of consumables (80.7%). Structural challenges (42.1% could not enter the facility by themselves and 56.5% could not use the bathroom) and lack of height-adjustable examining couches (66.7%) impeded accessibility. Cost was incurred when participants (64.9%) utilised private health services where public services failed to address their needs.

Conclusion: Primary care services were mostly affordable and adequate. Availability, acceptability and accessibility aspects created barriers.


spinal cord injury; primary care; Botswana; access; available; affordable; accessible; acceptable; adequate


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Crossref Citations

1. Non-use of healthcare services among persons with mobility impairments in Cofimvaba, South Africa
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African Journal of Disability  vol: 12  year: 2023  
doi: 10.4102/ajod.v12i0.1112