Original Research

Impact of low back pain and care-seeking behavior in an Indigenous community in Suriname: a qualitative approach


name here
Niels Struyf
1,2 MSc * ORCID logo

name here
Yano Truyers
3,4 MSc ORCID logo

name here
Tom Vanwing
3 PhD, Professor ORCID logo

name here
Wolfgang Jacquet
3 PhD, Professor ORCID logo

name here
Hans Paraanen

name here
Nancy Ho-A-Tham
2 MSc ORCID logo

name here
Wim Dankaerts
1 PhD, Professor ORCID logo


1 Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Research Group for Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, Faculty of Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences, KU Leuven, Tervuursestraat 101, Box 1501, 3001 Leuven, Belgium

2 Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Anton de Kom University of Suriname, Kernkampweg 5, Paramaribo, Suriname

3 Department of Educational Sciences EDWE-LOCI, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, Elsene, Belgium

4 Research Institute for Nature and Forest, Havenlaan 88, Box 73, Brussels, Belgium

5 Independent Research Consultant, Paramaribo, Suriname

ACCEPTED: 11 June 2024

early abstract:

Introduction: Low back pain (LBP) is a significant global public health issue affecting over half a billion people and contributing to disability worldwide. The impact of LBP-related disability is growing, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. In contrast with previous research, current evidence shows Indigenous Peoples also experience LBP's disabling effects. A clinical ethnographic can contribute by attempting to understand the data through the perspective of the Indigenous Peoples.
Methods: A clinical ethnographic study was conducted in Galibi, a Kalinya rural Indigenous village in Suriname with support of the local traditional authority. The main objective was to explore the impact of LBP and care-seeking behavior from the perspective of Indigenous Peoples with LBP.
Results: The findings revealed that LBP had a significant physical and emotional impact. Despite aggravating their LBP, participants continued many of their activities of daily life since they were essential for their (economic) survival. Furthermore, participants expressed anxiousness, financial worries, and concerns about the cause and future of their LBP. To address their LBP, Indigenous Peoples used both western and traditional care. Even though, visits to western Health care practitioners were limited due to logistical challenges and travel cost, the experience was often negative.
Conclusion: The study highlights the experiences of Kalinya Indigenous People dealing with LBP. LBP is a burden within Indigenous Peoples of Galibi but accepted as an integral part of their life. When in pain, Indigenous Peoples face many barriers to access western health care and visits to health care practitioners (HCP) were often unhelpful. This contributed to a long-lasting negative impact on the Indigenous patients with LBP.  Further research is needed to develop strategies that improve health outcomes related to LBP while reducing its associated disability in Indigenous Peoples.
Keywords: care seeking, disability, Indigenous Peoples, Kalinya, low back pain, Suriname