142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Mobile Phone Impacts and Utility for Nicaraguan Community Health Workers

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 : 8:30 AM - 8:55 AM

Ruth McDermott-Levy, PhD, RN , College of Nursing, Villanova University, Villanova, PA
Teddy Fitzpatrcik, BSN
Background: Community health workers (CHWs) are front-line health care providers to remote rural communities in Nicaragua.  For the past three years, volunteer CHWs in a remote region of rural Nicaragua, have been using mobile telephones and SMS texting to communicate with nurses and physicians who are located at the regional hospital.  CHWs communicate with the nurse or physician for direction managing health problems of community members.  The CHWs text non-emergent health findings and call the nurse or physician when there is an emergency. 

Methods: A qualitative descriptive study was conducted to identify the impact and utility of mobile phones for CHWs supporting the health of rural Nicaraguan communities.  Data were collected using one-to-one CHW interviews.

Results:  A transcript-based content analysis was used to analyze data generated from CHW interviews.  The analysis generated three themes that described how the mobile phones enabled the CHWs to become valuable health team members, supported the CHWs’ community health and social organizations, and provided personal benefit to the CHWs.

Conclusions: While linking remote rural communities to health care providers, equipping volunteer CHWs with mobile phones provides a source of empowerment and partnership in meeting communities’ health needs. Efforts should be made to enhance mobile phone programs and reduce technical barriers for CHWs in remote rural areas of Nicaragua.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related nursing
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify the utility of mobile phones for Nicaraguan CHWs. Discuss how mobile phones support CHWs in health access to rural Nicaraguan communities.

Keyword(s): Community Health Workers and Promoters, International Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the study PI. I have worked on the cell phone project in Nicaragua since 2010.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.