Piloting a mHealth intervention to improve newborn care awareness among rural Cambodian mothers: a feasibility study

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2017 Oct 16;17(1):356. doi: 10.1186/s12884-017-1541-z.


Background: Globally, the World Health Organization reports that the chances of a child dying is highest in the first month of life, the neonatal period. The neonatal mortality rate in Cambodia is 18 per 1000 live births. In the province of Kampong Chhnang, that rate is the fifth highest among the 24 provinces of Cambodia at 27 per 1000 live births. We piloted a project to determine the feasibility of using a mHealth intervention (the use of mobile devices to improve health outcomes) to increase mothers' awareness about neonatal care and promote the government policy 'Safe Motherhood Protocols for Health Centres' which are in line with WHO recommendations for neonatal care.

Methods: Between September and December 2013, we piloted an Interactive Voice Response system that sent pre-recorded messages to mothers of newborns using the theme 'It takes a village to raise a baby'. Four hundred fifty-five mothers were registered onto this program and the intervention involved delivering seven periodic 60 to 90 s voice messages directly to the mobile phones of these mothers from day three of their neonate's life to day 28. An evaluation of the pilot was conducted in December 2013. One hundred twenty-nine mothers were randomly selected from the 455 registered mothers and interviewed using a quantitative questionnaire. We also held two focus group discussions with three mothers and seven health workers.

Results: Quantitative and qualitative results of 126 respondents were included for analysis. They indicate that the intervention was well accepted. Seventy-one percent of respondents reported that they would recommend the intervention to other mothers, and 83% reported that they would be willing to pay for the service.

Conclusions: This type of mHealth intervention is an acceptable and feasible way of promoting the awareness of newborn care to rural Cambodian mothers.

Keywords: Child; Feasibility; Health; Maternal; Newborn; Nutrition; Pilot study; Voice messaging; mHealth.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cambodia
  • Cell Phone
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Infant Care / methods
  • Infant Care / psychology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy
  • Qualitative Research
  • Rural Health Services*
  • Rural Population
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Young Adult