Conducting an SMS Survey on Utility of the District Health Profile Tool in Kenya

Ali Karisa, Tara Nutley, Ian Wanyeki, and Bobby Jefferson


Public Health Informatics, Surveys, Mobile Health, Monitoring and Evaluation


Background: In many countries, limited capacity inhibits utilization of data generated in the health sector for decision making.To address this, the MEASURE Evaluation project developed a decision support tool, the District Health Profile (DHP) tool and deployed it across Kenya. Six months post-deployment, an SMS survey was conducted to assess the utilization of the tool across the country. Methodology: The SMS survey was administered to all the 388 DHP tool end-users. An initial email was sent to participants to inform them (1) of the purpose of the survey, (2) that the survey would be administered via SMS, (3) that mobile carrier costs incurred would be reimbursed, and (4) of response confidentiality. Each survey question was sent in separate SMS message with instructions on how to respond. A response would trigger an automated reply with the next question. On completion of the survey, a refund was credited to the interviewee’s phone number. Results: Twenty-six percent (101/388) of DHP training participants who were sent the survey completed it in entirety. Survey completion rate for the messages sent in the afternoons was higher (73.7%; 28/38) compared to mornings (57.4%; 68/119). Conclusions: SMS can be used to effectively conduct short survey efficiently and at low costs. In conducting this survey we learnt some good practices including (1) prior notification of respondents (2) short autonomous SMS questions complete with instructions on how to respond, (3) timing the survey for the afternoons and (4) reimbursement on the costs of participation.

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