Master's Project Title:

SMS Maama mHealth Pilot Research Study Proposal

MCH Student:

Sonja Ausen-Anifrani

Date of Defense:

November 3, 2017


Background: The most recent maternal mortality rate (MMR) in Uganda reveal 343 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births (Ugandan Bureau of Statistics, 2017; World Health Organization [WHO], 2015). A Ugandan woman has a 1 in 47 chance of dying during pregnancy and childbirth (Merck for Mothers, 2015). At the same time, Uganda also has the fourth highest birth rate in the world at 42.9 births/1,000 population (Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook, 2017).  Given these alarming statistics, this project proposes to implement a prenatal text messaging/SMS (short message service) educational platform, SMS Maama, as an innovative solution that creates cost-effective access for pregnant women to accurate information related to the pregnancy period.  SMS Maama believes that the receipt of and interaction with such information is an essential component in addressing challenges that contribute to high maternal mortality rates in Uganda.

Objectives: The purpose of this research is to determine whether maternal health information and screening questions about potential symptoms experienced in pregnancy delivered via text messaging is a feasible and acceptable method to deliver prenatal health education information. Researchers will also assess if such a delivery model increases maternal health knowledge related to pregnancy complications, nutrition, and birth preparedness and the postpartum period among users.

Methods: Researchers will use a mixed methods approach to assess these objectives. These methods include: key informant semi-structured interviews, focus group interviews among pregnant women living in Kampala, Uganda, and accessing medical care at the pilot site, and pre- and post- assessment surveys to measure feasibility, acceptability, and maternal health knowledge.

Implications for MCH: The proposed study seeks to increase access to pregnancy-related health information during the critical period of pregnancy and the postpartum period.  For women at the pilot site in Kampala, Uganda, pregnancy education delivered via SMS may be a cost-effective approach that has the ability to reach large numbers with accurate, potentially life-saving information in a setting in which health care options and information may be limited.