Technology Based Reproductive Health Program

There are a lot of health programs and interventions that are only available to a specific population in need of them. Technology has allowed practitioners to deliver intervention services using technology to reach some of the community that is otherwise more difficult to reach. Mobile devices are often universal, and this means the services can be delivered by mobile apps and text messaging which is allowing these harder to reach groups to get these services. This is particularly useful for teenagers and young adults.

A mobile app called Pulse is one of these interventions, and the Healthy Teen Network designs it. It gives access to comprehensive as well as medically accurate reproductive and sexual health information. This platform is designed specifically to reach teenage women who have high rates of unplanned or unwanted pregnancies and yet are not well served by other programs.

Child Trends and Healthy Teen Network worked together to evaluate the impact Pulse has on young women. Part of the evaluation included interviewing participants to see what their perceptions of Pulse were and to get insights from them. Some of the things they wanted to learn in the interviews are how they impacted recruitment, retention, and enrollment.

Main Factors Found From The Evaluation

When it comes to tech-based interventions, the interactive components along with reliable information and excellent design helps enhance the participant’s overall experience. Many of the participants who used Pulse liked the fact that it was simple and easy to navigate and loved being able to find real answers to their questions. Some of the information wasn’t necessarily new, but it allowed one place where they could easily find reliable information which increased their confidence as compared to the information they might get using search engines, social media or their friends. Some of the interviewees commented that after seeing the information provided it caused them to rethink what they were doing.

Even though these are some excellent results, it’s still necessary to look for ways to streamline a person’s experience by keeping up with changes in technology and user preferences. Those who used Pulse wanted to see the web-based mobile app changed to a phone app. As it currently is the app has to be viewed using a web browser on the phone. Some users also wanted to have more visual cues and less text. Many of those interviewed also suggested having ways for the user to interact such as discussion forums and a way to submit comments. The women wanted a way to talk to each other as they thought that would be good.

An effective recruitment method for text-based interventions is the use of social media. Those who took part in the Child Trends evaluation commented that the use of Facebook and Instagram was a great way to find young women for tech-based interventions. Because young people are on social media all the time, it’s the perfect place to reach them. This is a way to make them aware by advertising on platforms that they already use daily. The use of good ads and professional design along with content that is medically accurate improves the recruitment process. It also helps relieve public concern about whether the information is trustworthy and if it’s encouraging participation. Participants did not feel any frustration because of the fact they had minimal contact with study staff which was a potential objection of this technology-based intervention.

Those who participated in the Pulse study concluded that the use of social media is valuable and recommended including traditional recruitment methods such as at clinics, college campuses, and community centers. Having interventions that are app-based can often improve the engagement of participants by adding a text messaging component. Even so, the reactions of participants were split with some feeling this was helpful and others feeling it was redundant. The participants did explore that reminder messages that suggested they view the app or take surveys were helpful.

Jana

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