In United States today, disparities in infant mortality rates exist at the racial/ethnic and socio-economic levels. One of the main reasons for this disparity is lack of access to prenatal care due to structural, economic and psychological barriers.
For the past decade, text messages have been used to deliver pregnancy-related education and appointment reminders to low socio-economic women. However, recent research indicates that text messages are not effective for every woman in this group. Some women have limited literacy skills, which impacts their ability to read and interpret written information. Others frequently change their phone numbers, hence continuity of text messages is not guaranteed. Finally, the text messages are somewhat generic in nature, not addressing specific needs or learning styles of these women. Consequently, these populations continue to engage in high risk behaviors resulting in poor pregnancy outcomes.
Mobile applications, when appropriately designed can help address these limitations of text messages but none has been designed for the target population. We designed MomLink specifically for and in consultation with this population. Its graphical interface and linear navigation makes it easy and simple to use by anyone. The app allows a woman to track health indicators, set appointment reminders and communicate with her providers. A web portal has been developed to enable providers to remotely monitor and send personalized multimedia messages to their clients throughout their pregnancies.
We are conducting 12-month study in which 60 pregnant women from low socio-economic communities will use the app. We will compare pregnancy-related knowledge, belief, attitudes and self-empowerment; and birth outcomes data of these women against 60 women who will not use MomLink. Our hope is that MomLink women will have better pregnancy outcomes.
The short-term goal of this research is to improve pregnancy-related knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of women from low socio-economic communities. Another goal is to increase the engagement of the target population in prenatal care. The long-term goal is to reduce the incidences of preterm births, low birthweights and pregnancy complications among the target population. Ultimately, this will result in low infant mortality rates in low socio-economic groups, and a better healthcare for everyone in the community.
This research will scientifically establish the hypothesis that mobile technology is an effective method of influencing knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of pregnant women from low socio-economic status (short-term); and of reducing incidences of infant mortality in low socio-economic communities (long-term). This scientific evidence is needed to influence policy decision regarding healthcare and ensuring that every human being, regardless of social status, literacy skills, ethnic backgrounds etc, has access to prenatal care. Finally, the operational details of this intervention may help inform the implementation of other technology-based interventions for other kinds of lower socio-economic populations, e.g. older adults.
fund personnel who will provide prenatal care and collect study data
reimburse study participants
other study costs such as internet installation, travel expenses etc.