There is a high rate of acceptability to health information received through mobile phones in the rural India, according to a new study published in PLOS One. This exploratory study was conducted in a village outside of Bangalore from March 2009 to 2010.
Almost all of the respondents, 484/488 (99%), were open to receiving health information on mobile phones. Their preferred topics for health information included “healthy living, nutrition, maternal and child health, vaccination, self-care in chronic illnesses and information on infectious disease epidemics”. 45% of the respondents preferred to receive the information daily, while 46% preferred weekly updates, and 9% monthly. Regarding frequency of reminders, 76% of the respondents preferred to receive vaccination reminders a day earlier to the date of vaccination, 15% on the vaccination day itself and 9% from a week to a month prior to the date of vaccination.
For the medication adherence, 98% respondents were willing to receiving reminders via mobile phones; though 89% preferred voice calls, and only 9% preferred text messages while 2% had no specific preference. The study noted “medication reminders were preferred as often as the medication was to be taken by 163 (34%), daily by 129 (27%), biweekly by 22 (5%) and weekly by 165 (34%)” of the respondents.
Multiple factors were identified as determinants of preferences for “mode and content of [mobile phone] communication”. (E.g. gender, literacy in English, employment status, presence of chronic disease). Respondents literate in English were twice more likely to prefer more frequent reminders. Given that almost three quarters of the respondent were women, the study also concluded “healthcare communication directed at women via mobile phones, could empower them with the necessary knowledge to promote not only their own health but also the health of their families.”
Despite the study limitation that these data reflect consumer reported potential behaviors and not real behaviors observed with objective measurements, its results corroborate similar findings (with few exceptions) and hence hold the promise to leverage mobile phones for successful health related interventions.