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Study Overview

Evaluating the impact of mobiles for reproductive health on family planning knowledge and behavior
Study is 3ie funded:
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m4RH is a free SMS-based platform, developed and implemented by FHI360 (an international non-profit focused on public health), which provides information on various family planning methods to users in Kenya. This study will estimate the impact of m4RH on knowledge of family planning and use of contraception. The study will employ a randomized design with all new users of m4RH assigned to either a single treatment group or single control group. Members of the treatment group will receive full access to the m4RH service while members of the control group will not receive access to the m4RH service but instead receive general motivational messages. The impact of m4RH on knowledge of family planning and use of contraception will be estimated by comparing outcomes in the treatment and control groups using data gathered through SMS surveys.

Registration Citation:

Johnson, D., and Riley, P., 2013. Evaluating the impact of mobiles for reproductive health on family planning knowledge and behavior. Registry for International Development for Impact Evaluations (RIDIE). Available at: 10.23846/ridie013

Health, Nutrition, and Population
Additional Keywords:
mHealth, Family Planning
Secondary ID Number(s):

Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Doug Johnson
Abt Associates
Name of Second PI:
Pamela Riley
Abt Associates

Study Sponsor

Study Sponsor Location:
United States

Research Partner

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Type of Organization:
United States

Intervention Overview


The Mobile for Reproductive Health platform (m4RH) provides information on family planning methods via a free short-message (SMS) service. Users who access the system are first sent a menu listing nine family planning methods along with a “keyword” for each. Users then SMS the keyword for the family planning method they want to receive information about and are sent a short, clear SMS with information about the family planning method. Users may request more information on the benefits, side effects, and common misconceptions of the method. In addition to receiving information about family planning methods, users may also request a list of health facilities in their region which provide family planning counseling and services. The system is free and confidential.

Theory of Change:
Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

Implementing Agency

Name of Organization:
Type of Organization:
NGO (International)

Program Funder

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Type of Organization:
Public Sector, e.g. Government Agency or Ministry

Intervention Timing

Intervention or Program Started at time of Registration?
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Evaluation Method

Evaluation Method Overview

Primary (or First) Evaluation Method:
Randomized control trial
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Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

The study will use a randomized controlled design, which offers the most rigorous evidence of causal impact. Upon commencement of the study, all new users (identified based on the users’ phone number) will be randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first group (treatment) will have access to the full m4RH service. The second group (control) will receive a message informing them that the full service is temporarily unavailable because a research study is being conducted, and that the full service will be made available to them in three months. During this time, users assigned to the control group will have access to more general family planning information but not to regular m4RH content. (For details of the messages which will be sent to the control group see appendix B.) Once a user has been assigned to a group, all further SMS interaction between m4RH and the user (phone number), for the duration of the research study, will be based on the group assignment.

Outcomes (Endpoints):

The study will estimate the impact of m4RH on two primary outcomes: knowledge of family planning and use of modern contraception.

Unit of Analysis:
individual m4RH user (as idenfitied by mobile phone number)
Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
m4RH user (as identified by a unique mobile phone number)
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Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
4250 treatment and 4250 control

Supplementary Files

Analysis Plan:
m4rh research protocol 11-13-13.docx
Other Documents:

Outcomes Data

Data on knowledge of family planning methods and use of modern contraception will be collected through a set of short SMS-based surveys administered one day after first accessing the m4RH service, a week later, and again three-months after first accessing the service.
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Treatment Assignment Data

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Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
Data Previously Used?
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Data Analysis

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Study Materials

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Registration Category

Registration Category:
Prospective, Category 1: Data for measuring impacts have not been collected

Completion Overview

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Preliminary Report:
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Data Availability

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Other Materials

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Description of Changes:

Study Stopped