Impact of Traditional Bonesetters on Contemporary Fracture Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs): A Systematic Review

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BMC Health Services Research

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Background: The review aimed at systematically examining the evidence in articles that assess the clinical effects and impact of traditional bonesetters on contemporary fracture care in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs). Methods : A systematic review was conducted. Articles were identified by database searching ((PubMed, Embase, ScienceDirect, SCOPUS, and Web of Science). Searching, selecting and reporting were conducted according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses) Statement. The key words that were used in search for literature were: “Bonesetter”, “fracture healer” and “traditional bone setting”. Publications included for review were original articles, set in an LMIC and directly talked about the role and/or impact of traditional bonesetters in providing fracture care. Papers that focused on Low and Middle Income (LMIC) settings were reviewed. Results : A total of 176 papers were screened for eligibility and 15 studies were finally included. Nine were prospective studies, while 6 were retrospective studies. Most of the studies focused on clinical impacts of bone setter intervention. The evidence from the publications show that the main clinical effects of traditional bonesetters had been deleterious, but they had the potential to contribute positively when trained. Conclusion : Few well designed studies are available that assessed the impact of traditional bonesetters. Reported cases and reviews indicate their impact to be deleterious. However, the potential exist that when trained, these deleterious impact can be reduced through training for traditional bonesetters who contribute to fracture care in many LMICs.


Systematic Review; Bonesetters; Fracture Healing; Low- and Middle-Income Countries


Health Sciences and Medical Librarianship | Library and Information Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences



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