Original Research

The development of an explanatory model for voluntary medical male circumcision in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Celenkosini T. Nxumalo, Gugu G. Mchunu
South African Family Practice | Vol 63, No 1 : Part 4| a5346 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v63i1.5346 | © 2021 Celenkosini T. Nxumalo, Gugu Gladness Mchunu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 June 2021 | Published: 16 November 2021

About the author(s)

Celenkosini T. Nxumalo, College of Health Sciences, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Gugu G. Mchunu, Faculty of Health Sciences, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa


Background: KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) remains the epicentre of the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) epidemic in South Africa. The incidence of HIV infection in KZN necessitates cost-effective strategies to curb the spread of infection. Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) has been adopted as an additional biomedical preventive strategy since 2010 in line with recommendations from the World Health Organization. Despite several attempts to scale-up VMMC to reach age specific targets to achieve immediate aversion of infections, the uptake of VMMC remains sub-optimal, particularly in KZN. The purpose of this study is to describe the processes that were followed in developing, describing and evaluating an explanatory model for VMMC in KZN, South Africa.

Methods: A qualitative theory-generative phenomenographic study design was used to analyse the qualitative differences in primary healthcare stakeholders’ experiences, understanding and conceptions of VMMC in KZN, South Africa. The emerging results informed the development of the VMMC explanatory model for KZN, South Africa. The model development process followed four steps, namely (1) concept analysis, (2) construction of relational statements, (3) model description and (4) model evaluation. The criteria of relevance for the target audience – applicability, clarity, user friendliness and originality of work – were used to evaluate the model.

Results: The model’s central premise is that the decision to undergo VMMC is shaped by a complex interplay of factors in the context or external environment of males (the extrinsic variable), which influences specific experiences, conceptions and understanding regarding VMMC (the influential/intrinsic variables). These collectively determine men’s responses to VMMC (the outcome variable).

Conclusion: The model describes the process by which contextual, extrinsic and intrinsic variables interact to determine an individual male’s response to VMMC, thus providing a guide to primary healthcare providers on care, practice and policy interventions to support the uptake of VMMC in the rural primary healthcare context of KZN, South Africa.


explanatory model; medical male circumcision; primary health care; voluntary medical male circumcision; HIV prevention; HIV/AIDS


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