Busting contraception myths and misconceptions among youth in Kwale County, Kenya : results of a digital health randomised control trial
Authors & affiliation
Peter Gichangi, Lianne Gonsalves, Jefferson Mwaisaka, Mary Thiongo, Ndema Habib, Michael Waithaka, Tigest Tamrat, Alfred Agwanda, Hellen Sidha, Marleen Temmerman, Lale Say
Objectives The objective of this randomised controlled trial in Kenya was to assess the effect of delivering sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information via text message to young people on their ability to reject contraception-related myths and misconceptions. Design and setting A three-arm, unblinded randomised controlled trial with a ratio of 1:1:1 in Kwale County, Kenya. Participants and interventions A total of 740 youth aged 18-24 years were randomised. Intervention arm participants could access informational SRH text messages on-demand. Contact arm participants received once weekly texts instructing them to study on an SRH topic on their own. Control arm participants received standard care. The intervention period was 7 weeks. Primary outcome We assessed change myths believed at baseline and endline using an index of 10 contraception-related myths. We assessed change across arms using difference of difference analysis. Results Across arms, <5% of participants did not have any formal education, <10% were living alone, about 50% were single and >80% had never given birth. Between baseline and endline, there was a statistically significant drop in the average absolute number of myths and misconceptions believed by intervention arm (11.1%, 95% CI 17.1% to 5.2%), contact arm (14.4%, 95% CI 20.5% to 8.4%) and control arm (11.3%, 95% CI 17.4% to 5.2%) participants. However, we observed no statistically significant difference in the magnitude of change across arms. Conclusions We are unable to conclusively state that the text message intervention was better than text message 'contact' or no intervention at all. Digital health likely has potential for improving SRH-related outcomes when used as part of multifaceted interventions. Additional studies with physical and geographical separation of different arms is warranted.
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