ACM DEV 2010
Conference paper

Mobile phones for health education in the developing world: SMS as a user interface

View publication


Uganda suffers from a severe shortage of professional healthcare workers. Thus, programs aimed at prevention of disease are an important complement to the limited healthcare delivery system. We analyze two deployments of an SMS-based HIV/AIDS education system that uses a quiz format to assess people's knowledge of the disease, including its causes and methods of prevention. The deployments were to two groups in Uganda, one a sample of mobile phone users who live in a town in northwest Uganda; the other, workers at three factories in central and southeastern Uganda. The two samples had accuracy rates above chance levels and workers at the three factories had higher rates of participation (more individuals and more questions) than the sample selected from the cell tower service area. An analysis of incorrect answers suggested that while participants had some difficulty in matching the formatting required by the quiz, literacy did not appear to be a significant problem. We discuss the results in terms of implications for using SMS as a user interface mechanism and explore the possibility of using social ties among participants as a way to promote the scalability and sustainability of this quiz-based education method. Copyright 2010 ACM.