Objectives: In implementing mobile health interventions, user requirements and willingness to use are among the most crucial concerns for success of the investigation and have only rarely been examined in sub-Saharan Africa. This study aimed to specify the requirements of caregivers of children in order to use a symptom-based interactive voice response (IVR) system for seeking healthcare. This included (i) the investigation of attitudes towards mobile phone use and user experiences and (ii) the assessment of facilitators and challenges to use the IVR system.
Study design: This is a population-based cross-sectional study.
Methods: Four qualitative focus group discussions were conducted in peri-urban and rural towns in Shai Osudoku and Ga West district, as well as in Tema- and Accra Metropolitan Assembly. Participants included male and female caregivers of at least one child between 0 and 10 years of age. A qualitative content analysis was conducted for data analysis.
Results: Participants showed a positive attitude towards the use of mobile phones for seeking healthcare. While no previous experience in using IVR for health information was reported, the majority of participants stated that it offers a huge advantage for improvement in health performance. Barriers to IVR use included concerns about costs, lack of familiarly with the technology, social barriers such as lack of human interaction and infrastructural challenges. The establishment of a toll-free number as well as training prior to IVR system was discussed for recommendation.
Conclusions: This study suggests that caregivers in the socio-economic environment of Ghana are interested and willing to use mobile phone-based IVR to receive health information for child healthcare. Important identified users' needs should be considered by health programme implementers and policy makers to help facilitate the development and implementation of IVR systems in the field of seeking healthcare.
Keywords: Interactive voice response; Seeking healthcare; Sub-Saharan Africa; User needs; mHealth.
Copyright © 2016 The Royal Society for Public Health. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.