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Keywords:

  • knowledge retention;
  • Liberia;
  • mobile phone;
  • SMS texting;
  • mHealth

Introduction

With a large number of births occurring outside the formal health system, it is difficult to determine the number of pregnant women in rural regions of Liberia. The exponential growth of mobile phone use in developing countries provides a potential avenue for data collection on maternal and child health in such rural, remote regions.

Methods

A pre-, post-, and one-year posttest design was used to collect data on knowledge and skill retention for 7 essential items required for mobile phone use among traditional birth attendants (TBAs) trained in a short message service (SMS) texting data collection protocol (N = 99) in rural Liberia.

Results

Sixty-three participants (63.6% retention) completed the one-year posttest and displayed evidence of statistically significant knowledge and skill retention in 6 of the 7 tasks (P < .005), including the ability to: 1) turn on the phone, 2) use the mobile phone to make a call, 3) recognize that they have coverage, 4) recognize that the mobile phone is charged, 5) create a SMS text message without help, and 6) send a SMS text message without help. The TBAs continued to have difficulty with more complex tasks such as adding minutes to a phone.

Discussion

The mobile phone data-collection protocol proved feasible with TBAs demonstrating knowledge retention in a one-year posttest; however, clinical significance needs further investigation. The protocol increased communication and collaboration among TBAs, certified midwives, and clinic staff.