The effect of mobile phone short message service on maternal health in south-west Nigeria

Int J Health Plann Manage. 2018 Jan;33(1):155-170. doi: 10.1002/hpm.2404. Epub 2017 Mar 22.


Background: The maternal mortality ratio in Nigeria is estimated to be about 814 per 100,000 live births, and deliveries taken outside a health facility have been implicated as a major factor for this high number. Mobile phones interventions are continually being explored in the health field but its usefulness in maternal health in Nigeria has not been widely explored.

Objective: To determine the impact of SMS (text messages) on maternal health behaviour in Ife-Ijesa zone of Osun State, Nigeria.

Methods: We conducted an experimental study involving 2 groups of pregnant women and sent text messages to both groups. The control group was sent general health messages while the intervention group was sent specific pregnancy related messages and both groups were followed up till 6 weeks after delivery.

Results: An increase in facility delivery rates among both groups, between the index pregnancy and their last pregnancies, were recorded for both groups with a higher percentage increase recorded in the intervention group (29%) compared with the control group 13%. Crude and adjusted linear regression coefficients were done to estimate the effect of the intervention on the change in proportion of deliveries in health facilities. After adjusting for other variables, the difference obtained was a significant value of 14% (regression coefficient = 0.14, 95% CI = 0.08-0.20, P value = .005). Most participants in the intervention group (96.6%) expressed support for the use of text message for maternal health promotion.

Conclusion: The SMS-based intervention has a positive effect on facility delivery, and mothers welcome its use in pregnancy.

Keywords: Nigeria; m-health; maternal health; maternal mortality; skilled birth attendant.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods
  • Delivery, Obstetric / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health Services* / statistics & numerical data
  • Maternal Health*
  • Nigeria
  • Pregnancy
  • Text Messaging*