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Understanding the Role of mHealth and Other Media Interventions for Behavior Change to Enhance Child Survival and Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: An Evidence Review.

Citation: 
Elizabeth S. Higgs et al. Understanding the Role of mHealth and Other Media Interventions for Behavior Change to Enhance Child Survival and Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: An Evidence Review. pages 164-189. Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives, Volume 19, Supplement 1, 2014. DOI:10.1080/10810730.2014.929763
Abstract / Summary: 
Given the high morbidity and mortality among children in low- and middle-income countries as a result of preventable causes, the U.S. government and the United Nations Children's Fund convened an Evidence Summit on Enhancing Child Survival and Development in Lower- and Middle-Income Countries by Achieving Population-Level Behavior Change on June 3-4, 2013, in Washington, D.C. This article summarizes evidence for technological advances associated with population-level behavior changes necessary to advance child survival and healthy development in children under 5 years of age in low- and middle-income countries. After a rigorous evidence selection process, the authors assessed science, technology, and innovation papers that used mHealth, social/transmedia, multiplatform media, health literacy, and devices for behavior changes supporting child survival and development. Because of an insufficient number of studies on health literacy and devices that supported causal attribution of interventions to outcomes, the review focused on mHealth, social/transmedia, and multiplatform media. Overall, this review found that some mHealth interventions have sufficient evidence to make topic-specific recommendations for broader implementation, scaling, and next research steps (e.g., adherence to HIV/AIDS antiretroviral therapy, uptake and demand of maternal health service, and compliance with malaria treatment guidelines). While some media evidence demonstrates effectiveness in changing cognitive abilities, knowledge, and attitudes, evidence is minimal on behavioral endpoints linked to child survival. Population level behavior change is necessary to end preventable child deaths. Donors and low- and middle-income countries are encouraged to implement recommendations for informing practice, policy, and research decisions to fully maximize the impact potential of mHealth and multimedia for child survival and development.
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HIFA reviewer comment (Neil PW): The authors make several policy and research recommendations. Interestingly, I could find no mention at all of "as-needed" information on child health (for example, educational videos on how to recognise and manage childhood illness, as provided by HealthPhone). It would indeed be interesting to assess the relative roles and impact of SMS messaging versus as-needed health information for citizens. As the HIFA working group on Citixens, Parents and Children has found, there are currently very, very few of the latter type of health education interventions, but I am sure these will become very much more prominent over time, especially as video-enabled phones become ubiquitous.

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Author(s): 

Elizabeth S. Higgs, Allison B. Goldberg, Alain B. Labrique, Stephanie H. Cook, Carina Schmid, Charlotte F. Cole & Rafael A. Obregon

Year published: 
2014
Month published: 
September