Understanding potential uptake of a proposed mHealth program to support caregiver home management of childhood illness in a resource-poor setting: a qualitative evaluation

Tirza Areli Calderón, Holly Martin, Kathryn Volpicelli, Rosemary Frasso, Elsa Cecilia Díaz Arroyo, Ernesto Gozzer, Alison M. Buttenheim


Background: Extensive uptake of mobile phones offers an unprecedented opportunity to improve global healthcare delivery, especially among underserved populations. Mobile health (mHealth) has been increasingly recognized as a promising approach to addressing challenges in global maternal-child health and may play an important role in accelerating progress towards improved outcomes. However, more evidence guiding development of mHealth interventions is needed. The current study explores factors that may support or hinder adoption and use of a proposed mHealth intervention to improve caregiver home management of common childhood illnesses in order to shape program development.
Methods: Elicitation interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of 25 mothers recruited from a larger cluster-randomized survey sample in the Cono Norte region of Arequipa, Peru. Interview data were analyzed in Spanish to preserve important cultural nuances.
Results: Thematic analysis revealed potential facilitators of and barriers to uptake of the proposed mHealth program. Potential facilitators of caregiver participation include opportunity to engage in two-way communication with healthcare providers, development of instrumental and support knowledge to care for sick children, and healthcare challenges faced in a resource-poor community. Potential barriers include preference for in-person healthcare visits, program cost, text messaging abilities, and concern around program legitimacy.
Conclusions: This study underscores the potential for mHealth to improve global healthcare delivery in the area of maternal-child health. It demonstrates that mHealth interventions can meet the needs of vulnerable populations by offering novel approaches to promoting evidence-based care. This in-depth understanding of factors that may influence participation and use of this proposed mHealth program will help shape development of the intervention in this community.