Background: Most of the world's women living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) reside in sub-Saharan Africa. Although efforts to reduce mother-to-child transmission are underway, obtaining complete and accurate data from rural clinical sites to track progress presents a major challenge.
Objective: To describe the acceptability and feasibility of mobile phones as a tool for clinic-based face-to-face data collection with pregnant women living with HIV in South Africa.
Methods: As part of a larger clinic-based trial, 16 interviewers were trained to conduct mobile phone-assisted personal interviews (MPAPI). These interviewers (participant group 1) completed the same short questionnaire based on items from the Technology Acceptance Model at 3 different time points. Questions were asked before training, after training, and 3 months after deployment to clinic facilities. In addition, before the start of the primary intervention trial in which this substudy was undertaken, 12 mothers living with HIV (MLH) took part in a focus group discussion exploring the acceptability of MPAPI (participant group 2). Finally, a sample of MLH (n=512) enrolled in the primary trial were asked to assess their experience of being interviewed by MPAPI (participant group 3).
Results: Acceptability of the method was found to be high among the 16 interviewers in group 1. Perceived usefulness was reported to be slightly higher than perceived ease of use across the 3 time points. After 3 months of field use, interviewer perceptions of both perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness were found to be higher than before training. The feasibility of conducting MPAPI interviews in this setting was found to be high. Network coverage was available in all clinics and hardware, software, cost, and secure transmission to the data center presented no significant challenges over the 21-month period. For the 12 MHL participants in group 2, anxiety about the multimedia capabilities of the phone was evident. Their concern centered on the possibility that their privacy may be invaded by interviewers using the mobile phone camera to photograph them. For participants in group 3, having the interviewer sit beside vs across from the interviewee during the MPAPI interview was received positively by 94.7% of MHL. Privacy (6.3%) and confidentiality (5.3%) concerns were low for group 3 MHL.
Conclusions: Mobile phones were found both to be acceptable and feasible in the collection of maternal and child health data from women living with HIV in South Africa.
Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT00972699; http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00972699 (Archived by WebCite at http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00972699).
Keywords: human immunodeficiency virus; mobile health; mobile phones.