MHealth communication to strengthen postnatal care in rural areas: A systematic review

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Background: Postnatal care (PNC) in rural areas is characterised by low uptake, with possible effect on maternal and neonatal mortality rates. Mobile health (mHealth) communication has been proposed to promote the uptake of health services; however, there is limited information on how mHealth can strengthen PNC in rural areas. The objective of this review was to gather the best available evidence regarding mHealth communication to strengthen PNC in rural areas. Methods: Studies published between 1 January 2008 and 31 August 2018 were searched in electronic databases hosted by EBSCO Host. Reference list checking and contact with authors were also done. Critical appraisal of the eligible studies was also done. Results: The results of 11 articles were synthesised to report the determinants of PNC uptake. Determinants were aligned to the Integrative Model of Behaviural Prediction (IMBP). One-way mobile phone messaging was the most common type of mHealth communication used. mHealth communication influenced mothers' intentions, skills, and environmental constraints associated with uptake of PNC. Intentions were influenced by attitudes, perceived norms and self-efficacy. Positive attitudes, as well as changed attitudes toward PNC practices were observed. Perceived norms that were enhanced were delivery at a health facility with immediate PNC, seeking of reinforcement and professional health support of newborn care practices, and male partner support. Improved self-efficacy was demonstrated by mothers who attended scheduled appointments and they were confident with regard to newborn care practices. Skills for PNC that were improved included cord care, thermal care, appropriate breastfeeding and problem-solving. The environmental constraints faced and which were addressed in the studies included inaccessibility, unavailability and unaffordability of PNC services in rural areas. Conclusions: Results from the literature included in this study show that one-way mobile phone messaging is the common type of mHealth communication used to strengthen PNC in rural areas. mHealth communication can influence intentions, skills and environmental constraints as determinants of PNC uptake. mHealth communication is recommended to strengthen PNC in rural areas. To widen the evidence, more studies in the field of mHealth communication that report a variety of both maternal and neonatal outcomes are needed.




Mbuthia, F., Reid, M., & Fichardt, A. (2019). MHealth communication to strengthen postnatal care in rural areas: A systematic review. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 19(1).

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