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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

South Carolina: Study Examines Whether Phone Reminders and Incentives Improve Childhood Vaccinations

A team of researchers from the University of South Carolina, Duke University, and the National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania have published a paper in the journal, Trials, from a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded study that examined whether mobile phone reminders and conditional financial transfers improve timeliness of childhood vaccinations during the first year of life in Tanzania. In this publication, they describe the study protocol for a quasi-randomized controlled trial. Associate professor of health services policy and management Dr. Jan Ostermann, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, served as lead author on the paper.

“Vaccination is a cost-effective strategy for reducing morbidity and mortality among children under 5 years old, but to be fully protected from diseases such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis, and polio, children must receive all recommended vaccinations in a timely manner,” Dr. Ostermann et al. say. “In many countries, including Tanzania, high overall vaccination rates mask substantial regional variation in vaccination coverage and low rates of vaccination timeliness.”

With this study, the researchers worked with more than 400 women who were in the late stages of pregnancy and were enrolled from rural and urban health facilities and surrounding communities in the Mtwara Region. Participants were divided into three groups: standard care (no reminders/incentives), mobile phone-based reminders, and mobile phone-based reminders and incentives in the form of conditional financial transfers.

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