Johnson and Johnson : MomConnect
Educating and empowering pregnant women and new mothers with mobile text messaging
1. What is the observed insight?
Uptake of ante/postnatal care is influenced by education and socioeconomic factors. Often the most vulnerable mothers are the least likely to access care. This can be linked to lack of awareness of the importance of such care, feeling disempowered or previous negative experiences, social stigma related to teen pregnancy, lack of trust in the health establishment.
2. The Nudge
MomConnect is an initiative of the South African Department of Health with support from Johnson & Johnson and BabyCenter. It is the largest scaled mHealth programme and is offered in 95% of public health facilities. Over 1 million women have enrolled and receive 2-3 free text messages/week throughout pregnancy and the first year of the child’s life. Mothers have access to a helpdesk where they can ask questions via SMS or provide feedback about the quality of care they receive.
Mothers can register at their first antenatal visit or self-subscribe to receive SMS’ encouraging them to attend antenatal care. MomConnect messages cover a range of evidence-based pregnancy and childcare interventions. They are timely, targeted, short, clear and action-oriented to maximize understanding and impact the mothers’ behaviour. They are age and stage-based to accurately reflect what the mother may be experiencing and the medical advice she may be receiving. Messages include heartwarming information on fetal and child development to build an emotional connection and foster feelings of trust and confidence. New topics and terms are introduced progressively to increase their health literacy as the pregnancy advances. Messages also provide useful reference foods and resources.
3. Evidence path
98% of users felt that messages helped; health literacy of registered women was much higher than those who weren’t; users were more likely to have a positive attitude to pregnancy. Health workers observed that “mothers came to clinic only when necessary or to focus on genuine needs. Mothers were also asking more informed questions about their condition based on the messages”.