Health Worker Acceptability of an mHealth Platform to Facilitate the Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV in Tanzania

Digit Health. 2020 Feb 4;6:2055207620905409. doi: 10.1177/2055207620905409. eCollection Jan-Dec 2020.

Abstract

Objectives: Health workers (HWs) are increasingly using mobile health (mHealth) technologies in low-resource settings. Understanding HW acceptability of mHealth is critical to increasing the scale of mHealth solutions. We examined pre- and post-pilot clinical knowledge and acceptability of a tablet-based platform, the Tanzania Health Information System (T-HIT), targeting HWs delivering prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV services in seven health facilities in Misungwi District, Tanzania.

Methods: We developed a survey based on the diffusion of innovation theory and administered it to 27 HWs before and after a 3-month pilot of T-HIT. Using a Wilcoxon signed-rank test, we analyzed changes in acceptability defined as attitudes towards and self-efficacy for system use comparing pre- and post-test assessment scores and changes in knowledge of clinical care. Using analysis of variance, we explored these changes, stratifying health facilities by level of care and by distance from the district hospital.

Results: Post-pilot scores showed statistically significant improvement from pre-test for the total survey (Z = -2.67, p < 0.008) and for questions concerning system attitude (Z = -2.63, p < 0.008). HWs in hospitals and health centers exhibited a lower initial level of system acceptability in attitude than those in dispensaries and a significant improvement in overall mean acceptability over the pilot (95% CI 0.004-0.0187). HWs working more than 20 km from the hospital had a lower initial level of both system knowledge and acceptability than their less remote counterparts, but demonstrated larger improvements in knowledge and acceptability over time, although this change was not statistically significant.

Conclusions: The pilot demonstrates that HWs in PMTCT in Misungwi have a high acceptability of mHealth solutions. Using an mHealth solution can facilitate HW delivery of PMTCT care in rural and remote settings. Consideration of acceptability is important for fostering mHealth scale and program sustainability.

Keywords: HIV; PMTCT; Tanzania; acceptability; community health workers; mHealth.