Developing mHealth Messages to Promote Postmenstrual Regulation Contraceptive Use in Bangladesh: Participatory Interview Study

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2017 Dec 14;5(12):e174. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.6969.


Background: Abortions are restricted in Bangladesh, but menstrual regulation is an approved alternative, defined as a procedure of regulating the menstrual cycle when menstruation is absent for a short duration. Use of contraception after menstrual regulation can reduce subsequent unintended pregnancy, but in Bangladesh, the contraceptive method mix is dominated by short-term methods, which have higher discontinuation and failure rates. Mobile phones are a channel via which menstrual regulation clients could be offered contraceptive support after leaving the clinic.

Objective: This study aimed to support the development of a mobile phone intervention to support postmenstrual regulation family planning use in Bangladesh. It explored what family planning information women want to receive after having a menstrual regulation procedure, whether they would like to receive this information via their mobile phone, and if so, what their preferences are for the way in which it is delivered.

Methods: We conducted participatory interviews with 24 menstrual regulation clients in Dhaka and Sylhet divisions in Bangladesh. Women were recruited from facilities in urban and peri-urban areas, which included public sector clinics supported by Ipas, an international nongovernmental organization (NGO), and NGO clinics run by Marie Stopes. Main themes covered in the interviews were factors affecting the use of contraception, what information and support women want after their menstrual regulation procedure, how respondents would prefer to receive information about contraception, and other key issues for mobile health (mHealth) interventions, such as language and privacy. As part of the in-depth interviews, women were shown and played 6 different messages about contraception on the research assistant's phone, which they were given to operate, and were then asked to give feedback.

Results: Women were open to both receiving messages about family planning methods on their mobile phones and talking to a counselor about family planning methods over the phone after their menstrual regulation. Women most commonly wanted information about the contraceptive method they were currently using and wanted this information to be tailored to their particular needs. Women preferred voice messages to text and liked the interactive voice message format. When asked to repeat and identify the main points of the messages, women demonstrated good understanding of the content. Women did not seem too concerned with privacy or with others reading the messages and welcomed including their husbands in speaking to a counselor.

Conclusions: This study found that menstrual regulation clients are very interested in receiving information on their phones to support family planning use and wanted more information about the method of contraception they were using. Participatory voicemail was the preferred modality.

Keywords: Bangladesh; abortion; contraception; family planning; mHealth; reproductive health services.