Evaluation of an mHealth Intervention (Growin’ Up Healthy Jarjums) Designed With and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mothers: Engagement and Acceptability Study

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

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Abstract

Background: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have access to and interest in mobile health (mHealth), although few culturally relevant, evidence-based mHealth programs are available. We codeveloped an mHealth program in New South Wales with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, focusing on women’s and children's health and well-being. 

Objective: This study aims to assess the engagement with and acceptability of the Growin’ Up Healthy Jarjums program among mothers caring for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged <5 years and assess the acceptability of the program among professionals. 

Methods: Women were given access to Growin’ Up Healthy Jarjums—a web-based application, a Facebook (Meta Platforms, Inc) page, and SMS text messages—for 4 weeks. Short videos of health professionals presenting health information were tested within the application and on the Facebook page. Engagement with the application was examined through the number of log-ins, page views, and links used on the application. Engagement with the Facebook page was examined through likes, follows, comments, and the reach of posts. Engagement with the SMS text messages was examined through the number of mothers who opted out, and engagement with the videos was examined through the number of plays and videos watched and duration of the video watched. The acceptability of the program was examined through posttest interviews with mothers and focus groups with professionals. 

Results: A total of 47 participants joined the study (n=41, 87%, mothers and n=6, 13%, health professionals). Interviews were completed by 78% (32/41) of the women and 100% (6/6) health professionals. Of the 41 mothers, 31 (76%) women accessed the application, 13 (42%) scrolled the main page only, and 18 (58%) clicked on other pages. There were 48 plays and 6 completions of the 12 videos. The Facebook page received 49 page likes and 51 followers. The post with the most reach was a supportive and affirming cultural post. No participants opted out of the SMS text messages. Almost all mothers (30/32, 94%) reported that Growin’ Up Healthy Jarjums was useful, and all mothers reported that the program was culturally appropriate and easy to use. Of the 32 mothers, 6 (19%) mothers reported technical problems with accessing the application. Moreover, 44% (14/32) of mothers suggested improvements to the application. All the women reported that they would recommend the program to other families. 

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that the Growin’ Up Healthy Jarjums program was perceived useful and culturally appropriate. SMS text messages had the highest engagement, followed by the Facebook page and then the application. This study identified areas for technical and engagement-related improvements to the application. A trial is needed to assess the effectiveness of the Growin’ Up Healthy Jarjums program at improving health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere43673
Number of pages16
JournalJMIR Pediatrics and Parenting
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2023

Keywords

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

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