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Free Content Patterns of usage and preferences of users for tuberculosis-related text messages and voice calls in Uganda

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BACKGROUND: Little information exists about mobile phone usage or preferences for tuberculosis (TB) related health communications in Uganda.

METHODS: We surveyed household contacts of TB patients in urban Kampala, Uganda, and clinic patients in rural central Uganda. Questions addressed mobile phone access, usage, and preferences for TB-related communications. We collected qualitative data about messaging preferences.

RESULTS: We enrolled 145 contacts and 203 clinic attendees. Most contacts (58%) and clinic attendees (75%) owned a mobile phone, while 42% of contacts and 10% of clinic attendees shared one; 94% of contacts and clinic attendees knew how to receive a short messaging service (SMS) message, but only 59% of contacts aged 45 years (vs. 96% of contacts aged <45 years, P = 0.0001) did so. All contacts and 99% of clinic attendees were willing and capable of receiving personal-health communications by SMS. Among contacts, 55% preferred detailed messages disclosing test results, while 45% preferred simple messages requesting a clinic visit to disclose results.

CONCLUSIONS: Most urban household TB contacts and rural clinic attendees reported having access to a mobile phone and willingness to receive TB-related personal-health communications by voice call or SMS. However, frequent phone sharing and variable messaging abilities and preferences suggest a need to tailor the design and monitoring of mHealth interventions to target recipients.
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Keywords: SMS; information and communication technology; mobile technology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Uganda Tuberculosis Implementation Research Consortium, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda 2: Uganda Tuberculosis Implementation Research Consortium, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut 3: Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of California San Francisco and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco, California, Curry International Tuberculosis Center, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California 4: Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of California San Francisco and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco, California, Curry International Tuberculosis Center, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California 5: Uganda Tuberculosis Implementation Research Consortium, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 6: Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA 7: Uganda Tuberculosis Implementation Research Consortium, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, England, UK 8: Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA 9: Uganda Tuberculosis Implementation Research Consortium, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Department of Medicine, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda 10: Uganda Tuberculosis Implementation Research Consortium, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine Section, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Publication date: May 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on lung health world-wide.

    To share scientific research of immediate concern as rapidly as possible, The Union is fast-tracking the publication of certain articles from the IJTLD and publishing them on The Union website, prior to their publication in the Journal. Read fast-track articles.

    Certain IJTLD articles are also selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. These are available on the Union website.

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