Mobile phones and social structures: An exploration of a closed user group in rural Ghana

Nadi Nina Kaonga, Alain Labrique, Patricia Mechael, Eric Akosah, Seth Ohemeng-Dapaah, Joseph Sakyi Baah, Richmond Kodie, Andrew S. Kanter, Orin Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In the Millennium Villages Project site of Bonsaaso, Ghana, the Health Team is using a mobile phone closed user group to place calls amongst one another at no cost. Methods. In order to determine the utilization and acceptability of the closed user group amongst users, social network analysis and qualitative methods were used. Key informants were identified and interviewed. The key informants also kept prospective call journals. Billing statements and de-identified call data from the closed user group were used to generate data for analyzing the social structure revealed by the network traffic. Results: The majority of communication within the closed user group was personal and not for professional purposes. The members of the CUG felt that the group improved their efficiency at work. Conclusions: The methods used present an interesting way to investigate the social structure surrounding communication via mobile phones. In addition, the benefits identified from the exploration of this closed user group make a case for supporting mobile phone closed user groups amongst professional groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100
JournalBMC medical informatics and decision making
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Closed user group
  • Health team
  • Mobile phones
  • Social network analysis
  • mHealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics


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