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Glob Health Action. 2014 Oct 27;7:25606. doi: 10.3402/gha.v7.25606. eCollection 2014.

Assessing the impact of mHealth interventions in low- and middle-income countries--what has been shown to work?

Author information

1
UCL Medical School, London, UK; UCL Institute for Global Health, London, UK.
2
UCL Institute for Global Health, London, UK; Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå Centre for Global Health Research, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden; e.fottrell@ucl.ac.uk.
3
BBC Media Action, London, UK.
4
Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå Centre for Global Health Research, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden; Medical Research Council/Wits University Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt), School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Low-cost mobile devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, and personal digital assistants, which can access voice and data services, have revolutionised access to information and communication technology worldwide. These devices have a major impact on many aspects of people's lives, from business and education to health. This paper reviews the current evidence on the specific impacts of mobile technologies on tangible health outcomes (mHealth) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), from the perspectives of various stakeholders.

DESIGN:

Comprehensive literature searches were undertaken using key medical subject heading search terms on PubMed, Google Scholar, and grey literature sources. Analysis of 676 publications retrieved from the search was undertaken based on key inclusion criteria, resulting in a set of 76 papers for detailed review. The impacts of mHealth interventions reported in these papers were categorised into common mHealth applications.

RESULTS:

There is a growing evidence base for the efficacy of mHealth interventions in LMICs, particularly in improving treatment adherence, appointment compliance, data gathering, and developing support networks for health workers. However, the quantity and quality of the evidence is still limited in many respects.

CONCLUSIONS:

Over all application areas, there remains a need to take small pilot studies to full scale, enabling more rigorous experimental and quasi-experimental studies to be undertaken in order to strengthen the evidence base.

KEYWORDS:

health systems; interventions; low- and middle-income countries; mHealth; mobile data

PMID:
25361730
PMCID:
PMC4216389
DOI:
10.3402/gha.v7.25606
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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