Characteristics of mobile phone access and usage among caregivers in Pakistan - A mHealth survey of urban and rural population

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health


Introduction: Globally mobile ownership and access is becoming very common, and breakthroughs in mobile technology have shaped digital communication, with 7 billion mobile phone users globally. Developing countries account for 80% of newly purchased mobile phone devices with majority of such countries having low Routine Immunization coverage and a high risk of vaccine preventable diseases. The use of mobile phones provides a tremendous potential for public health involvement.
Objective: The aim of this study is to assess the acceptability and usability of mobile phones among infant caregivers in a LMIC setup and to explore the role of mHealth to improve immunization uptake and coverage.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional survey exploring the regional differences in mobile phone ownership, usability and preferences, along with level of trust with others while sharing a mobile phone. The study was conducted with caregivers of infants in an urban and rural sites of Pakistan.
Results: A total of 4472 households were approached, of which 3337 participants were eligible for the study (74.61 %). The reasons for not participating in the study (n = 1135) included (i) household locked or refusal to participate for 594 families (52%), (ii) child older than 14 days of life in 409 cases (36%), (iii) 80 (7%) families did not have access to a functional mobile phone, (iv) 36 (3%)families did not provide a mobile phone number, and (v) 14 (1%) could not stay within the HDSS for 6 months. Access to mobile phone with SMS features was considerably high at both sites: 99.1% in Matiari (rural site) and 96.7% in Karachi (urban). In Matiari 96.6% of the respondents reported having daily access to the phone, contrasting with only 51.4% in Karachi. In Karachi, the predominant spoken language was Urdu, whereas majority of the respondents in Matiari spoke Sindhi (34.6% vs. 70.9%).
Conclusion: Our study indicates high access to mobile phone in both urban and rural setup, However access to smart phone is still limited, urban and rural setup. Further, the acceptance of overall health- and barrier-based child immunization messages through mobile phone were quite high in both settings. Lastly automated calls were preferred over SMS due to literacy and local settings. This bears important implications for improving child immunization uptake through mobile phones in developing regions such as Pakistan.


Issue, and pagination are not provided by the author/publisher

Publication (Name of Journal)

International Journal of Medical Informatics