Knowledge, attitudes and beliefs on contributing factors among low back pain patients attending outpatient physiotherapy treatment in Malawi
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BACKGROUND: Low back pain (LBP) affects many people globally. Its aetiology is not clear. Patients lack knowledge of its contributing factors and have negative perception about their LBP. This study aimed to identify knowledge, attitudes and beliefs regarding the perceived contributing factors to LBP among patients attending physiotherapy outpatient departments in Malawi. This information can possibly facilitate planning of a LBP education programme in Malawi. METHODS: A quantitative cross-sectional survey was conducted, using a six-part selfadministered questionnaire with questions on demographic information, participants’ attitudes and beliefs regarding their LBP, knowledge about the course and causes of LBP, beliefs regarding nine contributing factors to LBP (identified in a Delphi study) and the sources of the participants’ knowledge. Data were analysed descriptively using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (version 19.0). A Chi-square test was used to determine any association between variables (alpha 0.05). All ethical procedures were strictly followed. RESULTS: Most participants (186, 91.2 %) did not manage to answer all six questions regarding knowledge correctly and were regarded as ‘partially knowledgeable’ about the course and causes of LBP. More than half (67%) portrayed negative attitudes and beliefs about LBP in general. The findings also showed a statistically significant relationship between knowledge, attitudes and beliefs (p = 0.04). CONCLUSION: This study highlighted that many patients with LBP in Malawi are not adequately knowledgeable about LBP and hold negative attitudes and beliefs regarding their LBP. Therefore, LBP management programmes in Malawi should include education programmes aimed at empowering patients with knowledge regarding LBP, as well as changing their negative attitudes and beliefs about their pain. Patients’ understanding of the cause and nature of their pain may enhance the achievement of treatment goals.