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Original Research

There’s No App for That: Assessing the Impact of mHealth on the Supervision, Motivation, Engagement, and Satisfaction of Community Health Workers in Sierra Leone

Authors:

Frédérique Vallières ,

Centre for Global Health, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland; School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
About Frédérique
PhD
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Eilish McAuliffe,

School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems, University College Dublin, Ireland
About Eilish
PhD
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Bianca van Bavel,

Centre for Global Health, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
About Bianca
MSc
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Patrick J. Wall,

School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
About Patrick
MSc
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Augustine Trye

World Vision Sierra Leone, Freetown, Sierra Leone
About Augustine
BSc
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Abstract

Background

The unprecedented access to mobile phones in resource-poor settings has seen the emergence of mobile-health (mHealth) applications specific for low- and middle-income contexts. One such application is the Mobile Technology for Community Health Suite (MOTECH Suite). Given the importance of community health worker (CHW) perceptions of a health program toward its successful implementation, this study explores whether the introduction of an mHealth application, as a human resource management tool, is associated with changes in CHW perceived supervision, motivation, work engagement, and job satisfaction over time.

Methods

We employed a 3-arm randomized longitudinal cohort design in Bonthe District, Sierra Leone. Three hundred twenty-seven CHWs were assessed over an 18-month period, with 3 different rounds of data collection. CHWs were assigned to 3 different intervention groups and given either a mobile phone with access to both the application and to a closed user group; a phone set up on a closed user group but with no application; or no mobile phone but the same level of training as the previous 2 groups.

Results

Findings indicated that there were no initial or sustained differences in perceived supervision and motivation across the 3 experimental groups over time with the introduction of the MOTECH Suite as a human resource management tool. Furthermore, there was no significant change in the self-reported measures of work engagement and job satisfaction across each of the intervention groups over time.

Discussion/Conclusion

Findings suggest that there are no systematic changes in perceived supervision, work engagement, job satisfaction, or motivation between CHWs who received a mobile phone set up on a closed user group with the MOTECH Suite application and those who either only received a phone with the closed user group or no phone at all. Therefore, the results of this study do not provide sufficient evidence to support the use of mobile technology or mHealth applications to strengthen these organizational factors within CHW programs and interventions. We argue that strengthening the organizational factors within CHW programs must therefore extend beyond the introduction of a technological solution.

How to Cite: Vallières, F., McAuliffe, E., van Bavel, B., J. Wall, P. and Trye, A., 2017. There’s No App for That: Assessing the Impact of mHealth on the Supervision, Motivation, Engagement, and Satisfaction of Community Health Workers in Sierra Leone. Annals of Global Health, 82(5), pp.936–949. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.aogh.2016.07.002
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Published on 08 Mar 2017.
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