Using Mobile Phones to Improve Vaccination Uptake in 21 Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Systematic Review

Journal of Medical Internet Research
Vol 19, No 10 (2017): October

Using Mobile Phones to Improve Vaccination Uptake in 21 Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Systematic Review
JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 2017 (Oct 04); 5(10):e148
Clare Oliver-Williams, Elizabeth Brown, Sara Devereux, Cassandra Fairhead, Isaac Holeman
Background: The benefits of vaccination have been comprehensively proven; however, disparities in coverage persist because of poor health system management, limited resources, and parental knowledge and attitudes. Evidence suggests that health interventions that engage local parties in communication strategies improve vaccination uptake. As mobile technology is widely used to improve health communication, mobile health (mHealth) interventions might be used to increase coverage.
Objective: The aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the available literature on the use of mHealth to improve vaccination in low- and middle-income countries with large numbers of unvaccinated children.
Methods: In February 2017, MEDLINE (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online), Scopus, and Web of Science, as well as three health organization websites—Communication Initiative Network, TechNet-21, and PATH—were searched to identify mHealth intervention studies on vaccination uptake in 21 countries.
Results: Ten peer-reviewed studies and 11 studies from white or gray literature were included. Nine took place in India, three in Pakistan, two each in Malawi and Nigeria, and one each in Bangladesh, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. Ten peer-reviewed studies and 7 white or gray studies demonstrated improved vaccination uptake after interventions, including appointment reminders, mobile phone apps, and prerecorded messages.
Conclusions: Although the potential for mHealth interventions to improve vaccination coverage seems clear, the evidence for such interventions is not. The dearth of studies in countries facing the greatest barriers to immunization impedes the prospects for evidence-based policy and practice in these settings.