Mobile Technology Use Among Community Health Workers in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review of the Literature, 2016-2020 Open Access

Gutierrez, Margaret (Spring 2021)

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Background: Community Health Worker (CHW) is an umbrella term for citizens who are recruited from the communities where they serve and trained as an extension of the healthcare system, embedded in the narrowest local level. Equipping CHWs with mobile reporting tools, digital training materials and simple mobile technology for conducting tests are some emerging strategies for increased health impact of CHWs.

Objectives: Through a review of literature published since 2016, provide an overview of recent studies of mobile technologies used by CHWs in sub-Saharan Africa to inform suggestions for future technology designs.

Methods: Utilizing PubMed, Web of Science and Embase databases, articles were screened for relevance and, of the 78 articles generated from the search, 49 unique articles underwent full-text review. Five systematic reviews on the topic were consulted to devise the three major themes: technology uses, logistical considerations and study design. Ultimately, 30 articles met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed using MAXQDA.

Results: Inductive analysis led to 13 themes, applied to 30 articles. Applications on mobile phones were the most common type of technology used and quality improvement of CHWs’ healthcare delivery was the primary purpose of the various technologies. Acceptability of the technology was commonly analyzed in the literature. The cost of the mobile technology, its likelihood of sustained use and its ability to operate in remote settings were rarely taken into consideration.

Conclusion: A variety of highly specialized mobile technologies add value to CHWs’ performance of their different duties, but there is a need for more participatory research that takes into account the holistic, contextual impact and long-term implementation of the technology to improve acceptability and sustained use. 

Table of Contents


A.   Rationale (Figures 1, 2) - 1

B.   Problem Statement - 1

C.   Purpose - 4

D.   Significance - 5

Literature Review (Figure 3) - 6

Methods (Figure 4) - 13

Results (Figures 5, 6. Table 1) - 17

Discussion - 31

Public Health Implications & Recommendations - 37

Conclusion- 39

References - 41

Figures - 46


A.   Study Characteristics - 47

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