Understanding the barriers to clubfoot treatment adherence in Uganda: a rapid ethnographic study

Disabil Rehabil. 2007 Jun 15-30;29(11-12):845-55. doi: 10.1080/09638280701240102.


Purpose: The Ponseti method has been demonstrated to be an effective, low-technology method of correcting congenital clubfoot. The purpose of this paper is to identify barriers to adherence to the Ponseti method of clubfoot treatment in Uganda. Understanding of barriers underlies successful and culturally appropriate approaches to program implementation.

Method: A qualitative study (rapid ethnographic study), using semi-structured interviews, focus groups and observation, was conducted. Interviews were conducted with parents of children with clubfoot (42), adults with clubfoot (2), community leaders (40), traditional healers (39) and practitioners treating clubfoot (38). Some 48 focus groups (24 male, 24 female) were conducted with general community members to ascertain their opinions on the potential barriers. The data was collected by a team of researchers in 8 districts of Uganda over the period of one month. It was then coded manually by the researchers and sorted into themes.

Results: The barriers to adherence were classified into 6 themes: (i) problems with programmatic resource availability and regional differences, (ii) distance to treatment site, (iii) poverty, (iv) lack of paternal support, (v) caregiver's other responsibilities, and (vi) challenges of the treatment process. A number of factors that were helpful for encouraging adherence were also identified: (i) outreach and follow-up services, (ii) counselling/caregiver-practitioner partnership, (iii) family harmony and solidarity, and (iv) receiving quality care.

Conclusions: Our study highlights the barriers to adherence in the treatment of clubfoot, as well as factors that could be helpful for overcoming these barriers. This information provides health planners with knowledge to assist them in meeting the needs of the population and implementing effective and appropriate awareness and treatment programs for clubfoot in Uganda.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Braces*
  • Clubfoot / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Orthopedic*
  • Parents
  • Patient Compliance / ethnology*
  • Patient Compliance / psychology
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Social Support
  • Uganda