Mobile phone messaging to husbands to improve maternal and child health behavior in India

Document Type

Article (peer-reviewed)

Publication Date



Over 90% of households in rural Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of India, have at least one mobile phone. However, ownership of mobile phone among women is quite low. Implementation research was conducted in Uttar Pradesh to examine (a) whether providing information on selected maternal and child health (MCH) behaviors to a husband’s mobile phone would enhance the man’s knowledge and lead to discussions in their family, and (b) whether such discussions would help in the adoption of healthy practices. The m-Health intervention included biweekly voice messages in local language (Hindi) on MCH topics to the mobile phone of pregnant women’s husbands. Using a quasi-experimental design, after four months of the m-Health intervention, in 2014, 881 husbands and 956 women from the study area were interviewed. Husbands’ knowledge, controlling for their socio-demographic characteristics, were significantly higher among the listeners of the messages than the non-listeners. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that if husbands discussed the messages with family members, the odds of wives’ practicing health behaviors improved significantly for three behaviors. These include one antenatal checkup in last trimester of pregnancy (odds ratio 1.72, p < 0.05), receiving a postnatal checkup within 7 days of delivery (odds ratio 3.02, p < 0.05), and delayed bathing of newborn (odds ratio 1.93, p < 0.05). Thus, communicating messages using m-Health was found to be an effective intervention for behavior change. The study demonstrated that mobile phones can be used effectively to reach men with MCH information and encourage them to promote healthy behavior in their family.