Using text messaging data to improve women’s reproductive health in Kenya

Friday, February 14, 2020

Claire Rothschild, a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health, has received a two-year, more than $89,000 predoctoral research award from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The award will support her dissertation research using text messaging data to improve family planning programs and policies in Kenya.

Claire Rothschild
Claire Rothschild

“Supporting women to achieve their reproductive goals is a critical priority for reproductive justice,” Rothschild said. “Better understanding women’s experiences and challenges using contraception is essential for reducing preventable morbidity and mortality that arises from unintended and mistimed pregnancies.”

Previous studies have shown that pregnancies that are mistimed, unplanned or unwanted are associated with many negative maternal and child health outcomes globally. Most unintended pregnancies result from not using contraception or not using it consistently or correctly.

Rothschild is collaborating with PATH’s country program in Kenya and Kenyatta National Hospital to better understand when and why women stop using or switch methods of contraception. The project will use data from more than 1,200 women just beginning or continuing modern family planning who seek care in maternal and child health clinics in Kenya. The data was captured through surveys sent to study participants via text messaging that measured contraception use, concerns, side effects and satisfaction on a weekly basis.

The project aims to identify predictors of contraceptive dissatisfaction and early discontinuation among women who do not wish to become pregnant, with the goal of developing pragmatic tools that could assist frontline health workers to identify women who may benefit from additional support. Rothschild plans to explore the quality of family planning services and how quality of care may influence subsequent satisfaction and adherence to a specific contraceptive method.

Results from this study could be used to inform the design of more effective and targeted family planning programs and policies in areas with high unmet need for contraception.