User assessments and the use of information from MomConnect, a mobile phone text-based information service, by pregnant women and new mothers in South Africa
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MomConnect was designed to provide crucial health information to mothers during pregnancy and in the early years of child rearing in South Africa. The design drew on the success of the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action's programme in South Africa, as well as a growing list of mobile health (mHealth) interventions implemented internationally. Services such as MomConnect are dependent on user acceptability as all engagements are voluntary, meaning that tools have to be easy to use and useful to be successful. This paper describes the evaluation of the tool by pregnant women and new mothers using the tool. A purposive sample of 32 individual semistructured interviews and 7 focus groups were conducted, across five provinces in South Africa. All the sessions were transcribed and then analysed using a contextualised interpretative approach, with the assistance of Atlas. ti. The women were consistently positive about MomConnect, attaching high value to the content of the messages and the medium in which they were delivered. The system was found to work well, with minor problems in some language translations. Respondents were enthusiastic about the messages, stating that the information was of great use and made them feel empowered in their role as a mother, with some saving the messages to use as a resource or to share with others. The most significant problems related to network coverage. There was strong support for this intervention to continue. Given the user acceptability of mHealth interventions, MomConnect appeared to meet the target of identifying and responding to the recipient's needs.