Short message service (SMS) as an educational tool during pregnancy: A literature review

Kim Lamont, Karen Sliwa, Simon Stewart, Melinda Carrington, Sandra Pretorius, Elena Libhaber, Charles S. Wiysonge, Esther F. Adebayo, Kerstin Klipstein-Grobusch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In many low- and middle-income countries, access to health information during pregnancy is poor. The rapid adoption of mobile phones in these countries has created new opportunities for disseminating such information. Objective: This paper reviews existing information on the use of short message services (SMSs) as a feasible tool to transmit health education information. Methods: The PubMed, Cochrane library, EMBASE and Google scholar databases were searched for studies in which mobile phone SMSs were used to promote health education during pregnancy. Studies of adult women, from any setting, who received SMS health education messages during their pregnancy, were included, irrespective of study design. Results: The analysis of results followed a narrative synthesis approach, a textual approach involving a synthesis of findings from multiple studies. The synthesis was developed manually, based on the extraction of data. All studies demonstrated use or interest in SMS technology to facilitate health information messaging. Findings from several studies showed that pregnant women were both receptive and willing to use SMS technology to enhance their health. In Zanzibar, the effect of SMS on skilled delivery rates and access to emergency healthcare was assessed. The effects SMS alerts had on hospital deliveries and SMS interventions had on facility use during pregnancy were assessed in Rwanda. Conclusion: The review highlights the practicality and willingness of utilising SMS technology to promote or enhance health education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)540-552
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Education Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Evidence review
  • health education
  • narrative synthesis pregnancy
  • SMS
  • women


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