Volume 119, Issue 10 p. 1256-1264
Intrapartum care

Mobile phones as a health communication tool to improve skilled attendance at delivery in Zanzibar: a cluster-randomised controlled trial

S Lund

S Lund

Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

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M Hemed

M Hemed

Ministry of Health, Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, Zanzibar

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BB Nielsen

BB Nielsen

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark

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A Said

A Said

Ministry of Health, Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, Zanzibar

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K Said

K Said

Ministry of Health, Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, Zanzibar

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MH Makungu

MH Makungu

Ministry of Health, Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, Zanzibar

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V Rasch

V Rasch

Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark

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First published: 17 July 2012
Citations: 147
Dr S Lund, Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3, 2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark. Email [email protected]

Abstract

Please cite this paper as: Lund S, Hemed M, Nielsen B, Said A, Said K, Makungu M, Rasch V. Mobile phones as a health communication tool to improve skilled attendance at delivery in Zanzibar: a cluster-randomised controlled trial. BJOG 2012;119:1256–1264.

Objective To examine the association between a mobile phone intervention and skilled delivery attendance in a resource-limited setting.

Design Pragmatic cluster-randomised controlled trial with primary healthcare facilities as the unit of randomisation.

Setting Primary healthcare facilities in Zanzibar.

Population Two thousand, five hundred and fifty pregnant women (1311 interventions and 1239 controls) who attended antenatal care at one of the selected primary healthcare facilities were included at their first antenatal care visit and followed until 42 days after delivery. All pregnant women were eligible for study participation.

Methods Twenty-four primary healthcare facilities in six districts in Zanzibar were allocated by simple randomisation to either mobile phone intervention (n = 12) or standard care (n = 12). The intervention consisted of a short messaging service (SMS) and mobile phone voucher component.

Main outcome measures Skilled delivery attendance.

Results The mobile phone intervention was associated with an increase in skilled delivery attendance: 60% of the women in the intervention group versus 47% in the control group delivered with skilled attendance. The intervention produced a significant increase in skilled delivery attendance amongst urban women (odds ratio, 5.73; 95% confidence interval, 1.51–21.81), but did not reach rural women.

Conclusions The mobile phone intervention significantly increased skilled delivery attendance amongst women of urban residence. Mobile phone solutions may contribute to the saving of lives of women and their newborns and the achievement of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, and should be considered by maternal and child health policy makers in developing countries.