Cycle 7 (2018 Deadline)
Reproductive Health Empowerment through Telehealth (REHEAT)
PI: Agnes Kiragga (firstname.lastname@example.org), Makerere University
U.S. Partner: Keith Horvath, University of Minnesota
Dates: February 2019 - January 2021
This initiative is built on an existing and well tested theory of change—the Information, Motivation, and Behavioral Skills (IMB) model—as well as a novel information dissemination method using telehealth. The IMB model proposes that health behavior and behavior change results from being well and accurately informed, having the personal and social motivation to engage in the behavior, and having the appropriate behavioral skills and self-efficacy to use them. The PI and her team will develop a Family Planning (FP) information package using a human-centered approach involving end users and subject matter experts in the design. This will allow the study team to develop and pilot content that is both culturally and scientifically appropriate. The telehealth services for the project will leverage an existing telehealth contact center and platform run by The Medical Concierge Group (TMCG), a local digital health company in Uganda. The contact center presently provides telehealth and mobile health services through voice calls, SMS, Whatsapp, email, and social media. It has been widely adopted over the last five years and supports voluntary family planning, among other health areas, across national programs for the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, USAID, and clinical research organizations.
To evaluate the impact of their work, the researchers will assess users’ level of knowledge before and after implementation of the FP intervention. With input from a community advisory board, they will design an information pack to be implemented through the already existing telehealth platform and assess its impact on FP uptake among men. In addition, their evaluation of the platform will provide informed guidance to future implementing teams to design FP or other sexual and reproductive health interventions using similar platforms. Given the barriers that men face in accessing traditional FP services, telehealth services have the potential to increase young men’s access to reproductive health information and offer a model for their delivery and other health services countrywide. Given that more than 70% of the population in Uganda are youth, the project is timely as it uses platforms that are youth-friendly (e.g., SMS and social media) to deliver important information on family and reproductive health to change behavior and increase voluntary uptake and use of services.
Summary of Recent Events
This project kicked off with the PI and her team perming an information generating activity that involved sending of messages to men already enrolled on The Medical Concierge Group (TMCG) mobile health platform, to collect information on what aspects of family planning is needed. Information from this survey was requested by the scientific research committee, and it was embedded in the revised protocol prior to submission to the institutional review and ethics committee (IREC). They have ongoing study team meetings to plan for the proposed research study.
In the next 3-6 months, they expect to perform the following project activities:
1. Conduct protocol training for all study staff
2. Develop and finalize mobile-health messages
3. Hold a community advisory board to review the content of the proposed m-health activities and provide any feedback that will guide the conduct of the study in the community
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