Taking knowledge for health the extra mile: participatory evaluation of a mobile phone intervention for community health workers in Malawi

Natalie Campbell, Eva Schiffer, Ann Buxbaum, Elizabeth McLean, Cary Perry, Tara M. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In Malawi, where the majority of the population resides in rural areas, community health workers (CHWs) are the first, and often only, providers of health services. An assessment of health information needs, however, found that these frontline workers often lacked essential health information. A pilot project, implemented in 2 rural districts of Malawi between 2010 and 2011, introduced a mobile phone system to strengthen knowledge exchange within networks of CHWs and district staff. To evaluate the mobile phone intervention, a participatory evaluation method called Net-Map was used, an approach built on traditional social network analysis. Together, CHWs and district personnel discussed information needs and gaps and the roles of different actors in their information networks. They then used drawings and 3-dimensional objects to create baseline and endline maps showing the linkages and levels of influence among members of the information network. Net-Map provided them with powerful evidence of differences before and after the mobile phone initiative. At baseline, CHWs were not mentioned as actors in the information network, while at endline they were seen to have significant connections with colleagues, beneficiaries, supervisors, and district health facilities, as both recipients and providers of information. Focus groups with CHWs complemented the Net-Map findings with reports of increased self-confidence and greater trust by their communities. These qualitative results were bolstered by surveys that showed decreases in stockouts of essential medicines, lower communication costs, wider service coverage, and more efficient referrals. As an innovative, participatory form of social network analysis, Net-Map yielded important visual, quantitative, and qualitative information at reasonable cost.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-34
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal health, science and practice
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2014

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Malawi
Cell Phones
Information Services
Health
Social Support
Costs and Cost Analysis
Health Facilities
Rural Population
Focus Groups
Self Report
Health Services
Referral and Consultation
Communication
Population

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Taking knowledge for health the extra mile : participatory evaluation of a mobile phone intervention for community health workers in Malawi. / Campbell, Natalie; Schiffer, Eva; Buxbaum, Ann; McLean, Elizabeth; Perry, Cary; Sullivan, Tara M.

In: Global health, science and practice, Vol. 2, No. 1, 01.02.2014, p. 23-34.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Campbell, Natalie ; Schiffer, Eva ; Buxbaum, Ann ; McLean, Elizabeth ; Perry, Cary ; Sullivan, Tara M. / Taking knowledge for health the extra mile : participatory evaluation of a mobile phone intervention for community health workers in Malawi. In: Global health, science and practice. 2014 ; Vol. 2, No. 1. pp. 23-34.
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