Kristen Gagnaire | October 2015
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Presentation at the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference, October 19, 2015

Background: To date, the mHealth sector lacks rigorous, quantitative evidence linking mobile messaging programs to significant behavioral change and improved health outcomes. This evidence gap limits the integration of mobile messaging strategies into national health system strategies. MAMA’s early research findings, while encouraging, were limited. Survey methods lacked significant sample sizes and scientific comparators (i.e., baselines or control groups) and only explored usability, satisfaction and trust — not outcomes.

Methods: MAMA developed a Research Agenda to address this evidence gap and guide MAMA’s approach to evaluating the intervention effect on demand for health services across MAMA programs in Bangladesh, India and South Africa. Each evaluation team designed a mixed-methods experimental study that maps to the overall MAMA research framework and applies similar quantitative methodologies to enable comparisons across MAMA programs. These studies include statistically significant samples with control groups to ensure a high degree of scientific rigor.

Results: MAMA now has on-going trials measuring targeted behavior and health outcomes in each country, and even specific biological markers associated with the most challenging health priorities in India and South Africa.

Conclusions: The graduation from self-reported claims of behavior change to the use of clinical data is a significant advancement for the rigor and scope of MAMA’s evaluation methodologies. This presentation delves into the Research Agenda, showcasing specific health priorities and associated clinical services, commodities and biological markers examined. The Research Agenda is also aimed to contribute to the evidence base for mHealth as well as to MAMA’s momentum toward integration into national health systems. Findings will be shared through peer-reviewed journals.