Exploring the Patterns of Use and the Feasibility of Using Cellular Phones for Clinic Appointment Reminders and Adherence Messages in an Antiretroviral Treatment Clinic, Durban, South Africa

McCord Hospital, Durban, South Africa.
AIDS patient care and STDs (Impact Factor: 3.5). 11/2010; 24(11):729-34. DOI: 10.1089/apc.2010.0146
Source: PubMed


In preparation for a proposed intervention at an antiretroviral therapy (ART) clinic in Durban, South Africa, we explored the dynamics and patterns of cellular phone use among this population, in order to ascertain whether clinic contact via patients' cellular phones was a feasible and acceptable modality for appointment reminders and adherence messages. Adults, who were more than 18 years old, ambulatory, and who presented for treatment at the clinic between October-December 2007, were consecutively recruited until the sample size was reached (n = 300). A structured questionnaire was administered, including questions surrounding sociodemographics, cellular phone availability, patterns of use, and acceptability of clinic contact for the purpose of clinic appointment reminders and adherence support. Most respondents (n = 242; 81%) reported current ownership of a cellular phone with 95% utilizing a prepaid airtime service. Those participants who currently owned a cellular phone reported high cellular phone turnover due to theft or loss (n = 94, 39%) and/or damage (n = 68, 28%). More females than men switched their cell phones off during the day (p = 0.002) and were more likely to not take calls in certain social milieus (p ≤ 0.0001). Females were more likely to share their cell phone with others (p = 0.002) or leave it in a place where someone could access it (p = 0.005). Most respondents were willing to have clinic contact via their cellular phones, either verbally (99%) or via text messages (96%). The use of cellular phones for intervention purposes is feasible and should be further investigated. The findings highlight the value of gender-based analyses in informing interventions.

Download full-text


Available from: Lisa M Butler, Feb 23, 2015
1 Follower
36 Reads
  • Source
    • "As coverage to mobile phone networks expands and new communication technologies are developed (e.g. cheaper smartphones), opportunities for mHealth applications remain high [14-19,22,26,28,31,34,37,40],[43,49,56,62]. For instance, innovations for automated text messaging and partnerships with mobile technology developers may improve scalability [37,39,49] "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Access to mobile phone technology has rapidly expanded in developing countries. In Africa, mHealth is a relatively new concept and questions arise regarding reliability of the technology used for health outcomes. This review documents strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of mHealth projects in Africa. A systematic review of peer-reviewed literature on mHealth projects in Africa, between 2003 and 2013, was carried out using PubMed and OvidSP. Data was synthesized using a SWOT analysis methodology. Results were grouped to assess specific aspects of project implementation in terms of sustainability and mid/long-term results, integration to the health system, management process, scale-up and replication, and legal issues, regulations and standards. Forty-four studies on mHealth projects in Africa were included and classified as: "patient follow-up and medication adherence" (n = 19), "staff training, support and motivation" (n = 2), "staff evaluation, monitoring and guidelines compliance" (n = 4), "drug supply-chain and stock management" (n = 2), "patient education and awareness" (n = 1), "disease surveillance and intervention monitoring" (n = 4), "data collection/transfer and reporting" (n = 10) and "overview of mHealth projects" (n = 2). In general, mHealth projects demonstrate positive health-related outcomes and their success is based on the accessibility, acceptance and low-cost of the technology, effective adaptation to local contexts, strong stakeholder collaboration, and government involvement. Threats such as dependency on funding, unclear healthcare system responsibilities, unreliable infrastructure and lack of evidence on cost-effectiveness challenge their implementation. mHealth projects can potentially be scaled-up to help tackle problems faced by healthcare systems like poor management of drug stocks, weak surveillance and reporting systems or lack of resources. mHealth in Africa is an innovative approach to delivering health services. In this fast-growing technological field, research opportunities include assessing implications of scaling-up mHealth projects, evaluating cost-effectiveness and impacts on the overall health system.
    BMC Public Health 02/2014; 14(1):188. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-14-188 · 2.26 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Efforts of this kind tended to focus on measuring program outcomes such as treatment adherence and biomedical health impacts such as CD4-count. Randomized clinical studies (RCTs) led by Pop-Eleches et al. and Lester et al. (findings described below) are salient examples of rigorous studies [20,21]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This systematic review assesses the published literature to describe the landscape of mobile health technology (mHealth) for HIV/AIDS and the evidence supporting the use of these tools to address the HIV prevention, care, and treatment cascade. The speed of innovation, broad range of initiatives and tools, and heterogeneity in reporting have made it difficult to uncover and synthesize knowledge on how mHealth tools might be effective in addressing the HIV pandemic. To do address this gap, a team of reviewers collected literature on the use of mobile technology for HIV/AIDS among health, engineering, and social science literature databases and analyzed a final set of 62 articles. Articles were systematically coded, assessed for scientific rigor, and sorted for HIV programmatic relevance. The review revealed evidence that mHealth tools support HIV programmatic priorities, including: linkage to care, retention in care, and adherence to antiretroviral treatment. In terms of technical features, mHealth tools facilitate alerts and reminders, data collection, direct voice communication, educational messaging, information on demand, and more. Studies were mostly descriptive with a growing number of quasi-experimental and experimental designs. There was a lack of evidence around the use of mHealth tools to address the needs of key populations, including pregnant mothers, sex workers, users of injection drugs, and men who have sex with men. The science and practice of mHealth for HIV are evolving rapidly, but still in their early stages. Small-scale efforts, pilot projects, and preliminary descriptive studies are advancing and there is a promising trend toward implementing mHealth innovation that is feasible and acceptable within low-resource settings, positive program outcomes, operational improvements, and rigorous study design
    The Open AIDS Journal 08/2013; 7(1):17-41. DOI:10.2174/1874613620130812003
  • Source
    • "Crankshaw et al. and Kunutsor et al. found that mobile phone ownership is between 60-80% in low-income countries, with patients being willing to be contacted verbally or by text message [20],[21]. Therefore, phone reminders may be feasible in these settings. In addition, staff working in resource-poor settings broadly support the use of mobile phone technology [22],[23]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mobile technology has great potential to improve adherence and treatment outcomes in healthcare settings. However, text messaging and phone calls are unaffordable in many resource-limited areas. This study investigates the use of a no-cost alternative mobile phone technology using missed calls ('buzzing') to act as a patient reminder. The use of missed calls as a patient reminder was evaluated for feasibility and effectiveness as an appointment reminder in the follow-up of newly-diagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive patients in an HIV testing and counselling department in rural Swaziland. This pilot study uses a before-and-after operational research study design, with all patients with mobile phones being offered the intervention. The primary outcome was the rate of attendance at the HIV testing and counselling department for collection of results in those with mobile phones before and after the introduction of the intervention. Over two-thirds, 71.8% (459/639), of patients had a mobile phone. All patients with a mobile phone consented to being buzzed. There was no difference in attendance for follow-up at the clinic before and after the intervention was implemented (80.1% versus 83.3%, p = 0.401), or after adjusting for confounding factors (OR 1.13, p = 0.662). This pilot study illustrates that mobile technology may be feasible in rural, resource-poor settings as there are high rates of mobile phone ownership and the intervention had a 100% uptake rate, with positive feedback from staff and patients. In this particular setting, the intervention did not improve attendance rates. However, further research is planned to investigate the impact on adherence to appointments and medications in other settings, such as HIV chronic care follow-up and as part of an enhanced package to improve adherence.
    Infectious Diseases of Poverty 06/2013; 2(1):12. DOI:10.1186/2049-9957-2-12 · 4.11 Impact Factor
Show more