Developing targeted client communication messages to pregnant women in Bangladesh: a qualitative study

BMC Public Health. 2021 Apr 20;21(1):759. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-10811-y.


Background: Timely and appropriate evidence-based practices during antenatal care improve maternal and neonatal health. There is a lack of information on how pregnant women and families perceive antenatal care in Bangladesh. The aim of our study was to develop targeted client communication via text messages for increasing antenatal care utilization, as part of an implementation of an electronic registry for maternal and child health.

Methods: Using a phenomenological approach, we conducted this qualitative study from May to June 2017 in two sub-districts of Chandpur district, Bangladesh. We selected study participants by purposive sampling. A total of 24 in-depth interviews were conducted with pregnant women (n = 10), lactating women (n = 5), husbands (n = 5), and mothers-in-law (n = 4). The Health Belief Model (HBM) was used to guide the data collection. Thematic analysis was carried out manually according to the HBM constructs. We used behavior change techniques to inform the development of targeted client communication based on the thematic results.

Results: Almost no respondents mentioned antenatal care as a preventive form of care, and only perceived it as necessary if any complications developed during pregnancy. Knowledge of the content of antenatal care (ANC) and pregnancy complications was low. Women reported a variety of reasons for not attending ANC, including the lack of information on the timing of ANC; lack of decision-making power; long-distance to access care; being busy with household chores, and not being satisfied with the treatment by health care providers. Study participants recommended phone calls as their preferred communication strategy when asked to choose between the phone call and text message, but saw text messages as a feasible option. Based on the findings, we developed a library of 43 automatically customizable text messages to increase ANC utilization.

Conclusions: Pregnant women and family members had limited knowledge about antenatal care and pregnancy complications. Effective health information through text messages could increase awareness of antenatal care among the pregnant women in Bangladesh. This study presents an example of designing targeted client communication to increase antenatal care utilization within formal scientific frameworks, including a taxonomy of behavior change techniques.

Trial registration: ISRCTN69491836 . Registered on December 06, 2018. Retrospectively registered.

Keywords: Antenatal care; Bangladesh; Behaviour change technique; Targeted client communication.

Publication types

  • Clinical Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bangladesh
  • Child
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactation*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women*
  • Prenatal Care
  • Qualitative Research