Adapting an evidence-based contraceptive behavioural intervention delivered by mobile phone for young people in Zimbabwe

BMC Health Serv Res. 2022 Jan 25;22(1):106. doi: 10.1186/s12913-022-07501-9.


Background: Despite the availability of a range of contraceptive methods, young people around the world still face barriers in accessing and using them. The use of digital technology for the delivery of health interventions has expanded rapidly. Intervention delivery by mobile phone can be a useful way to address young people's needs with regard to sexual and reproductive health, because the information can be digested at a time of the recipients' choosing. This study reports the adaptation of an evidence-based contraceptive behavioural intervention for young people in Zimbabwe.

Methods: Focus group discussions and in depth interviews were used to evaluate the 'fit' of the existing intervention among young people in Harare, Zimbabwe. This involved determining how aligned the content of the existing intervention was to the knowledge and beliefs of young Zimbabweans plus identifying the most appropriate intervention deliver mode. The verbatim transcripts were analysed using a thematic analysis. The existing intervention was then adapted, tested and refined in subsequent focus group discussions and interviews with young people in Harare and Bulawayo.

Results: Eleven key themes resulted from the discussions evaluating the fit of the intervention. While there were many similarities to the original study population, key differences were that young people in Zimbabwe had lower levels of personal and smart mobile phone ownership and lower literacy levels. Young people were enthusiastic about receiving information about side effects/side benefits of the methods. The iterative testing and refinement resulted in adapted intervention consisting of 97 messages for female recipients (94 for male), delivered over three months and offered in English, Shona and Ndebele.

Conclusions: Young people in Zimbabwe provided essential information for adapting the existing intervention. There was great support for the adapted intervention among the young people who took part in this study. The adapted intervention is now being implemented within an integrated community-based sexual and reproductive health service in Zimbabwe.

Keywords: Adaptation; Contraception; Digital intervention; Evidence-based; Implementation; Young people.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cell Phone*
  • Contraception
  • Contraceptive Agents*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproductive Health
  • Zimbabwe


  • Contraceptive Agents