Social determinants of seeking and reaching injury care in South Africa: a community-based qualitative study

Eyitayo O. Owolabi, Karen Ferreira, Samukelisiwe Nyamathe , Agnieszka Ignatowicz, Maria Lisa Odland, Abdul-Malik Abdul-Latif, Jean Claude Byiringiro, Justine Davies*, Kathryn M. Chu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Timely access to quality injury care saves lives and prevents disabilities. The impact of social determinants of health on the high injury prevalence in South Africa is well documented, however, evidence of their role in accessing injury care is lacking. This study explored the social determinants of seeking and reaching injury care in South Africa.

Methods: This was a qualitative study involving rural and urban patients, community members, and healthcare providers in Western Cape, South Africa. Data were obtained through semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions using an interview guide informed by the four-delays framework. Inductive and deductive approaches were used for thematic analysis.

Results: A total of 20 individual interviews and 5 focus group discussions were conducted. There were 28 males (individual interviews: 13; focus groups: 15) and 22 females (individual interviews: 7; focus groups: 15), and their mean age was 41 (standard deviation ±15) years. Barriers to seeking and reaching injury care cut across five social determinants of health domains: healthcare access and quality; neighbourhood and environment; social and community context; education; and economic stability. The most prominent social determinants of seeking and reaching injury care were related to healthcare access and quality, including perceived poor healthcare quality, poor attitude of healthcare workers, long waiting time, and ambulance delays. However, there was a strong interconnection between these and neighbourhood and environmental determinants such as safety concerns, high crime rates, gangsterism, lack of public transportation, and social and community factors (presence/absence of social support and alcohol use). Barriers related to education and economic stability were less prevalent.

Conclusion: We found a substantial role of neighbourhood, social, and community factors in seeking and reaching injury care. Therefore, efforts aimed at improving access to injury care and outcomes must go beyond addressing healthcare factors to include other social determinants and should involve collaborations with multiple sectors, including the community, the police, the transport department, and alcohol regulation agencies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of Global Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Social determinants of seeking and reaching injury care in South Africa: a community-based qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this