Family Planning

Evaluation of an mHealth SMS dialogue strategy to meet women's and couples' postpartum contraceptive needs in Kenya

Elizabeth K Harrington, MD, Principal Investigator

Many barriers to contraceptive uptake exist, both within and outside of the postpartum time period, and include socio-cultural, economic, and supply-side factors. Furthermore, while the importance of engaging men in family planning programs has been acknowledged for decades, few interventions have succeeded in increasing male involvement in family planning while maintaining a focus on women's empowerment. Innovative approaches to meeting the family planning needs of women and couples are urgently needed. Public health interventions are increasingly incorporating mobile health (mHealth) approaches using short message service (SMS) technology in low-income countries, approaches that have demonstrated benefit among various reproductive health outcomes. We hypothesize that personalized, bidirectional SMS dialogue with individual women and couples will increase postpartum contraceptive uptake, thereby decreasing unmet need for family planning in Kenya. We have collaborated with the University of Washington (UW) Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) along with Kenyan telecommunication providers to develop a hybrid messaging system that allows for innovative bidirectional SMS messaging. This system has been used successfully in maternal child health clinics in Kenya. In qualitative research, women in Kenya have expressed a strong desire for mHealth support to provide additional education, counseling and reminders to supplement counseling by health workers.

Funding Source: Society of Family Planning
Ends: 06-30-2017