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Title: Back pain and its relationship to socio-demographic and psycho-social factors in a cohort of pregnant women attending a primary health care clinic in the eThekwini municipality
Authors: Hawker, Carmen 
Keywords: Pregnancy;Back;Cervical;Thoracic;Lumbar;Pain;Prevalence;Risk factors;Demographic;Psycho-social;Epemiology;South Africa
Issue Date: 2019
Background: The prevalence of back pain and general discomfort is not uncommon in pregnant women, often being under-reported until it affects their daily routine. South Africa, a third world developing country has unique risk factors and demographic profile. Although many studies have previously studied the various factors relating to back pain in pregnancy, this topic is far from being exhausted as a research area. Specifically, new studies should be conducted on the prevalence of back pain in pregnancy to analyse the impact it has on women worldwide. Little research has been conducted on rural communities in Africa especially in South Africa, to assess the risk of pregnancy-related back pain. Therefore, the information obtained from this study will provide a better understanding of the demographics, physical demands and psycho-social stresses experienced by pregnant women in this understudied population.

Back pain and general discomfort is not uncommon in pregnant women, but it is often under- reported and can be disabling. International studies report a high prevalence especially in the last trimester. Little is known about the prevalence of and risk factors for back pain in South African pregnant women. Thus, this study aimed to determine the relationship between socio-demographic and psychosocial factors in a cohort of pregnant women attending a primary health care clinic in the eThekwini municipality of the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Method: A retrospective descriptive cohort design was utilized whereby 382 participants’ files were assessed for eligibility. The files consisted of a socio-demographic questionnaire, a chart review and two epidemiological questionnaires that were administered to the participants during the first and third trimester. Permission to access these files was obtained from the principle investigator of the MRC/DUT project. All participants signed consent forms for research purposes. The data relevant to this study was extracted and analysed using Statistical Package for the Social Science version 24.0 (IMB Analytics). Descriptive statistics were used to describe the data in terms of means and standard deviations or frequencies and count where appropriate. Inferential statistics allowed for relationships between the variables to be assessed. A p - value of less than 0.05 was used to indicate statistical significance.

Results: The total of 303 files were included. Participants were Black Africans, mostly single (81.2%, n=229) with a mean age of 25.84 (±SD 6.04). There was a high unemployment rate (70.8%, n=199), with most having obtained a secondary education

(77.1%, n=213), and 44.1% (n=122) residing in squatter camps. There was a high human immunodeficiency infection rate (40.5%, n=94). Of the 303 participant files eligible for the study only 46 returned for the third trimester follow up. The prevalence of BP in the first trimester was 12.4% (n=35) and 10.9% (n=5) in the third trimester. LBP was the most (8.5%, n=24) in the first and 10.9% (n=5) in the third trimester, followed by UBP and NP. The incidence of back pain over the duration of pregnancy was zero. Being single (p = 0.03), reporting no stress (p = 0.04), not using pain killers (p = 0.01), and no alcohol consumption in the current pregnancy (p = 0.03) were associated with a decreased risk of back pain. There were no relationships found between the variables and back pain prevalence in the third trimester.

Conclusion: The women attending this primary health care clinic are relatively young, come from a low socio-economic area with low reported levels of stress and substance abuse. They reported low levels of back pain. The follow up rate at the third trimester was low and this may skew the results of this study. Further research is needed in this community and South Africa to appreciate the prevalence and impact of back pain in pregnancy.
Submitted in partial compliance with the requirements for the Master’s Degree in Technology: Chiropractic, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2019.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Health Sciences)

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