Design and implementation of an m-health data model for improving health information access for reproductive and child health services in low resource settings using a participatory action research approach

Publication Date: 
Monday, June 25, 2018
Thobias J, Kiwanuka A

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have been utilised globally for advancing social and economic development. As information becomes key to enlightening development initiatives, the role of mobile technology-based ICT services is becoming more significant. The aim of this study was to design and implement a mHealth data model with an intention of improving mothers' knowledge of Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) services in rural environments and to remind mothers who do not have access to mobile phones to attend antenatal care.

The methodology adopted in this research was participatory action research. A phased approach was utilised to answer the research question. The phases were: diagnosis of the problem, action planning, action taking, evaluation and reflection. The study was conducted in Chamwino district of Dodoma region, Tanzania. Reproductive and Child Health sections of Buigiri dispensary and Chamwino health centre were purposively selected. Data were collected through key informant interviews, document review, focus group discussion and observation. Content analysis methods were utilised during analysis. Consequently, the data model was designed, implemented and evaluated.

Challenges of information dissemination in low resource settings noted in this study are: mobile phone ownership and access of mothers, vertical coordination of health services and low staffing levels of health workers. Mothers who do not own mobile phones can leverage phone ownership of community leaders, TBAs, CHWs and relatives. This in turn facilitates communication of health messages to mothers.

Although this study was conducted in a low resource setting, mobile network coverage was good and thus SMS technology could be used. Research should be conducted on how to disseminate similar information in remote areas without mobile coverage

BMC Med Inform Decis Mak