Fracture treatment by bonesetters in central Ghana: patients explain their choices and experiences

Trop Med Int Health. 2007 Apr;12(4):564-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2007.01822.x.


Objective: To understand factors influencing patients' decisions to choose either fracture treatment by a bonesetter or in the hospital and to explore patients' experiences with bonesetter treatment.

Method: In-depth interviews with 46 patients with a radiological proven fracture in a district hospital in central Ghana.

Results: Traditional healers, such as bonesetters, play a substantial role in the Ghanaian healthcare system. Over a period of 3 months, 14 patients with a proven fracture left hospital for treatment by a bonesetter. The hospital is considered the only institution where emergency care can be provided and reliable, extensive diagnostic and treatment facilities are available for fracture treatment. Patients opting for bonesetter treatment are guided by the severity of the fracture, availability of the service, their financial status and past experiences. The healing methods used by different bonesetters are based on mutual comparable principles.

Conclusion: Fracture treatment can serve as a model for respectful and efficient co-existence of traditional and biomedical medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Choice Behavior
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / psychology
  • Fractures, Bone / surgery
  • Fractures, Bone / therapy*
  • Ghana
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Medicine, African Traditional*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Orthopedic Procedures / methods
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*