Barriers to the implementation of mobile phone reminders in pediatric HIV care: a pre-trial analysis of the Cameroonian MORE CARE study.

Journal Title: 
Publication Date: 
Nov 14, 2014

BACKGROUND: Mobile health (mhealth) has emerged as a powerful resource in the medical armamentarium against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. We sought to determine among adult caregivers of HIV-exposed/infected children; the extent of mobile phone ownership, the ability to communicate in Cameroon's national official languages (NOL), and the refusal to receive such reminders.

METHODS: We conducted a pre-trial analysis of potentials participants of the MORE CARE trial. MORE CARE took place from January through March 2013 in three geographic locations in Cameroon. We included caregivers aged 18 years or older. Written communication was assessed by the ability to read and understand information presented in the consent form. Verbal communication was assessed during a two-way conversation and in a discussion about HIV infection. A question about mobile phone ownership and another about refusal to receive reminders via mobile phone were phrased to allow "Yes" or "No" as the only possible reply. A p <0.05 was considered statistically significant.

RESULTS: We enrolled 301 caregivers of HIV-exposed/infected children from rural (n = 119), semi-urban (n = 142) and urban (n = 40) areas of Cameroon. The mean caregiver age was 42.9 years (SD 13.4) and 85% were women. A fifth of our study population overall had at least one of the three obstacles to mobile phone reminders. By region, 39.5% in rural, 6.3% in semi-urban, and 7.5% in urban setting had at least one obstacle, with significant differences between the rural and urban settings (p<0.001) and the rural and semi-urban settings (p<0.001). The acceptability of SMS was 96.3% and of mobile phone calls 96% (p = 0.054). The ability to communicate in NOL orally was 89.7% and 84.4% in writing (p = 0.052). Mobile phone ownership (p<0.001; p = 0.03) and the ability to communicate in an NOL orally (p<0.001; p = 0.002) or in writing (both p<0.001), were significantly lower in rural compared to semi-urban and urban settings respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of mHealth was limited in about one fifth of our population. The greatest obstacle was the inability to use oral or written NOL, followed by non-ownership of a mobile phone. These impediments were higher in a rural setting as compared to urban or semi-urban areas.