Improving maternal health outcomes remains a priority in Low and Middle Income Countries. With the rapid proliferation of mobile health technologies, there is an increased interest in understanding how these technologies can effectively improve maternal health outcomes particularly maternal health seeking knowledge and behaviors. However, few studies present clear explanations of the program developers' rationale (theory of change) and contextual factors that could influence program outcomes. This mixed-methods study assesses Mobile for Mothers, a community health workers (CHW) utilized maternal mHealth intervention. We present the program developers' rationale and utilize it as a framework to guide our study that aimed to identify intervention-related and contextual factors, which influence the observed outcomes of a CHW, utilized mHealth intervention.
Materials and methods
Quantitative methods (a questionnaire with 740 women who received the intervention and survey of 57 CHWs who utilized the intervention) and qualitative methods (12 interviews and 4 group discussions with CHWs and 20 interviews and 5 group discussions with pregnant and lactating women and 15 interviews and 2 group discussions with men) were conducted. These were used to understand how the mHealth intervention was implemented and to gain insight into contextual factors that potentially influenced the observed intervention outcomes.
Results were grouped following three categories: (1) perceptions and experiences of CHWs utilizing the mHealth technology; (2) CHW-related outcomes; and (3) contextual factors that influence maternal health-seeking behavior. The overall response of CHWs and community members to the intervention was positive. However, contextual factors like the relationship between the CHWs and their respective communities, the pregnant women's decision-making power and lack of access due to financial influenced the observed outcomes.
Mobile health applications are promising interventions for improving the performance of CHWs and health-seeking behavior of pregnant women. However, the contextual factors play a crucial role in intervention outcomes and need to be explicated by program developers during intervention design and implementation.