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Experiences of community health workers on adopting mHealth in rural Malawi: A qualitative study


Background: The use of mobile health technology (mHealth) by community health workers (CHWs) can strengthen community-based service delivery and improve access to and quality of healthcare. Objective This qualitative study sought to explore experiences and identify factors influencing the use of an integrated smartphone-based mHealth called YendaNafe by CHWs in rural Malawi.

Methods: Using pre-tested interview guides, between August and October 2022, we conducted eight focus group discussions with CHWs ( n = 69), four in-depth interviews with CHW supervisors, and eight key informant interviews in Neno District, Malawi. We audio-recorded and transcribed the interviews verbatim and organized them for analysis in Dedoose V9.0.62. We used an inductive analysis technique to analyze the data. We further applied the six domains of the socio-technical system (STS) framework to map factors influencing the use of YendaNafe.

Results: User experiences and facilitators and barriers were the two main themes that emerged. mHealth was reported to improve the task efficiency, competence, trust, and perceived professionalism of CHWs. CHWs less frequently referred to cultural factors influencing app uptake. However, for other social systems, they identified relationships and trust with stakeholders, availability of training and programmatic support, and performance monitoring and feedback as influencing the use of YendaNafe. From the STS technical domain, the availability and adequacy of hardware such as phones, mobile connectivity, and usability influenced the use of YendaNafe.

Conclusions: Despite the initial discomfort, CHWs found mHealth helpful in supporting their service delivery tasks. Identifying and addressing social and technical factors during mHealth implementation may help improve end users’ attitudes and uptake.

More information

Journal Article
Kachimanga C
Mulwafu M
Ndambo MK
Harare J
Murkherjee J
Kulinkina AV
Mbae S
Ndarama E
van den Akker T
Abejirinde IOO