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Glob Health Promot. 2017 Aug 1:1757975917715035. doi: 10.1177/1757975917715035. [Epub ahead of print]

A systematic review of portable electronic technology for health education in resource-limited settings.

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1. Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA.
2. Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH), Eldoret, Kenya.
3. Moi University, College of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, Department of Child Health and Paediatrics, Eldoret, Kenya.



The objective of this study is to conduct a systematic review of the literature of how portable electronic technologies with offline functionality are perceived and used to provide health education in resource-limited settings.


Three reviewers evaluated articles and performed a bibliography search to identify studies describing health education delivered by portable electronic device with offline functionality in low- or middle-income countries. Data extracted included: study population; study design and type of analysis; type of technology used; method of use; setting of technology use; impact on caregivers, patients, or overall health outcomes; and reported limitations.


Searches yielded 5514 unique titles. Out of 75 critically reviewed full-text articles, 10 met inclusion criteria. Study locations included Botswana, Peru, Kenya, Thailand, Nigeria, India, Ghana, and Tanzania. Topics addressed included: development of healthcare worker training modules, clinical decision support tools, patient education tools, perceptions and usability of portable electronic technology, and comparisons of technologies and/or mobile applications. Studies primarily looked at the assessment of developed educational modules on trainee health knowledge, perceptions and usability of technology, and comparisons of technologies. Overall, studies reported positive results for portable electronic device-based health education, frequently reporting increased provider/patient knowledge, improved patient outcomes in both quality of care and management, increased provider comfort level with technology, and an environment characterized by increased levels of technology-based, informal learning situations. Negative assessments included high investment costs, lack of technical support, and fear of device theft.


While the research is limited, portable electronic educational resources present promising avenues to increase access to effective health education in resource-limited settings, contingent on the development of culturally adapted and functional materials to be used on such devices.


community-based research / participatory research; e-health; education (including health education); global health / globalization


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