Male Partner Engagement in Family Planning SMS Conversations at Kenyan Health Clinics
Harrington, Elizabeth K.
Unger, Jennifer A.
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Maternal health outreach and engagement is a common goal of mobile health (mHealth) projects for development. Male partners of pregnant and postpartum women are known to be important influences on their health behavior. This paper presents a novel extension to previous HCI4D research by exploring how to engage male partners in SMS-based family planning conversations. First, we explore design considerations for inclusion of male partners in an existing semi-automated bidirectional SMS platform. A 12- month randomized controlled trial of a family planning counseling SMS program was conducted in western Kenya using our system. A total of 260 pregnant women and 101 of their male partners were enrolled in the system. We analyze enrollment and usage data from this trial to compare baseline technology use and demographics of mothers and their male partners. Our findings demonstrate significant technology gender divides in the study population. Finally, we explore how both the mothers and their male partners interacted with the SMS system through an analysis of over 11,500 messages. We conclude that it is feasible to include rural Kenyan men in an SMS-based family planning discussion program and that their inclusion does not dramatically affect the mothers’ engagement