Acceptability and feasibility of a behavioral and mobile health intervention (COMBIND) shown to increase uptake of prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) care in India

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Background: A cluster-randomized trial recently demonstrated that an integrated behavioral and mobile technology intervention improved uptake of key components of a Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) Option B+ program, among HIV-infected pregnant/breastfeeding women in India. To guide scale-up and optimize programmatic implementation, we conducted a mixed-methods evaluation of the feasibility and acceptability of this intervention. Methods: The COMmunity Home Based INDia (COMBIND) study, was conducted in four districts of Maharashtra, India and randomized 119 integrated counseling and testing centers (ICTC) and their outreach workers (ORWs) to the COMBIND intervention, an integrated mHealth application that allowed digital data capture, PMTCT educational videos, SMS alerts for missed visits and reminder for visits, combined with personal empowerment and motivational interviewing training for ORWs. This qualitative evaluation was done through 15 in-depth interviews (IDIs) with ORWs and 15 IDIs with HIV-infected pregnant/breastfeeding women from the intervention arm. Utilizing a concurrent nested mixed-method evaluation approach, we assess the feasibility and acceptability of the study intervention. Results: All 30 participants reported that the PMTCT videos were essential in providing easy to understand information on critical aspects of HIV and necessary care related to PMTCT practices. A majority of the ORWs reported that the personal empowerment training with motivational interviewing skills training increased their confidence, motivation and gave them the tools for effectively supporting their clients. The mHealth application improved their working style as it facilitated targeted PMTCT information support, systemized data capture, streamlined their health education delivery practice and provided a sense of work satisfaction. The SMS appointment alerts improved retention in HIV care for mother and baby to the smaller proportion that had access to their phones. Despite reported improvements in knowledge and communication, few ORWs reported that structural challenges such as limited drug stocks, lack of HIV kits or unavailability of trained staff at ICTC, may hamper the uptake of PMTCT services, thus resulting in limited significant impacts of COMBIND on PMTCT outcomes. Conclusion: This study found that COMBIND intervention is scalable, feasible, beneficial and very well accepted by ORWs and patients, however structural challenges in goods and services remain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number752
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 24 2020


  • HIV
  • Intervention
  • Mhealth
  • Option B +

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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