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Achieving Sustainibility and Scale-Up of Mobile Health Noncommunicable Disease Intervantions in Sub-Saharan Africa: Views of Policy Makers in Ghana.

Opoku D, Busse R, Quentin W
JMIR mHealth uHealth 2019, Volume 7, Issue 5


Background: A growing body of evidence shows that mobile health (mHealth) interventions may improve treatment and care for the rapidly rising number of patients with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). A recent realist review developed a framework highlighting the influence of context factors, including predisposing characteristics, needs, and enabling resources (PNE), for the long-term success of mHealth interventions. The views of policy makers will ultimately determine implementation and scale-up of mHealth interventions in SSA. However, their views about necessary conditions for sustainability and scale-up remain unexplored.

Objective: This study aimed to understand the views of policy makers in Ghana with regard to the most important factors for successful implementation, sustainability, and scale-up of mHealth NCD interventions.

Methods: Members of the technical working group responsible for Ghana’s national NCD policy were interviewed about their knowledge of and attitude toward mHealth and about the most important factors contributing to long-term intervention success. Using qualitative methods and applying a qualitative content analysis approach, answers were categorized according to the PNE framework.

Results: A total of 19 policy makers were contacted and 13 were interviewed. Interviewees had long-standing work experience of an average of 26 years and were actively involved in health policy making in Ghana. They were well-informed about the potential of mHealth, and they strongly supported mHealth expansion in the country. Guided by the PNE framework’s categories, the policy makers ascertained which critical factors would support the successful implementation of mHealth interventions in Ghana. The policy makers mentioned many factors described in the literature as important for mHealth implementation, sustainability, and scale-up, but they focused more on enabling resources than on predisposing characteristics and need. Furthermore, they mentioned several factors that have been rather unexplored in the literature.

Conclusions: The study shows that the PNE framework is useful to guide policy makers toward a more systematic assessment of context factors that support intervention implementation, sustainability, and scale-up. Furthermore, the framework was refined by adding additional factors. Policy makers may benefit from using the PNE framework at the various stages of mHealth implementation. Researchers may (and should) use the framework when investigating reasons for success (or failure) of interventions.

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