Development of a Maternal and Child mHealth Intervention With Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mothers: Co-design Approach

Sarah Jane Perkes, Belinda Huntriss, Noelene Skinner, Bernise Leece, Rosie Dobson, Joerg Mattes, Kerry Hall, Billie Bonevski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Despite their growing popularity, there are very few mobile health (mHealth) interventions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that are culturally safe and evidence based. A co-design approach is considered a suitable methodology for developing health interventions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Objective: The aim of this study was to co-design an mHealth intervention to improve health knowledge, health behaviors, and access to health services for women caring for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Methods: Aboriginal researchers led engagement and recruitment with health services and participants in 3 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in New South Wales, Australia. Focus groups and interviews were facilitated by researchers and an app developer to gather information on 3 predetermined themes: design characteristics, content modules, and features and functions. Findings from the co-design led to the development of an intervention prototype. Theories of health behavior change were used to underpin intervention components. Existing publicly available evidence-based information was used to develop content. Governance was provided by an Aboriginal advisory group. Results: In total, 31 mothers and 11 health professionals participated in 8 co-design focus groups and 12 interviews from June 2019 to September 2019. The 6 design characteristics identified as important were credibility, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designs and cultural safety, family centeredness, supportive, simple to use, and confidential. The content includes 6 modules for women's health: Smoke-free families, Safe drinking, Feeling good, Women's business, Eating, and Exercising. The content also includes 6 modules for children's health: Breathing well; Sleeping; Milestones; Feeding and eating; Vaccinations and medicines; and Ears, eyes, and teeth. In addition, 6 technology features and functions were identified: content feed, social connection, reminders, rewards, communication with health professionals, and use of videos. Conclusions: An mHealth intervention that included app, Facebook page, and SMS text messaging modalities was developed based on the co-design findings. The intervention incorporates health behavior change theory, evidence-based information, and the preferences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and health professionals. A pilot study is now needed to assess the acceptability and feasibility of the intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere33541
Number of pages17
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • baby
  • co-design
  • mHealth
  • mobile phone
  • mother
  • young children


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