The effectiveness and characteristics of mHealth interventions to increase adolescent’s use of sexual and reproductive health services in sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic review


BACKGROUND: mHealth innovations have been proposed as an effective solution to improving adolescent access to and use of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services; particularly in regions with deeply entrenched traditional social norms. However, research demonstrating the effectiveness and theoretical basis of the interventions is lacking. AIM: Our aim was to describe mHealth intervention components, assesses their effectiveness, acceptability, and cost in improving adolescent’s uptake of SRH services in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). METHODS: This paper is based on a systematic review. Twenty bibliographic databases and repositories including MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CINAHL, were searched using pre-defined search terms. Of the 10, 990 records screened, only 10 studies met the inclusion criteria. The mERA checklist was used to critically assess the transparency and completeness in reporting of mHealth intervention studies. The behaviour change components of mHealth interventions were coded using the taxonomy of Behaviour Change Techniques (BCTs). The protocol was registered in the ‘International Prospective Register for Systematic Reviews’ (PROSPERO-CRD42020179051). RESULTS: The results showed that mHealth interventions were effective and improved adolescent’s uptake of SRH services across a wide range of services. The evidence was strongest for contraceptive use. Interventions with two-way interactive functions and more behaviour change techniques embedded in the interventions improved adolescent uptake of SRH services to greater extent. Findings suggest that mHealth interventions promoting prevention or treatment adherence for HIV for individuals at risk of or living with HIV are acceptable to adolescents, and are feasible to deliver in SSA. Limited data from two studies reported interventions were inexpensive, however, none of the studies evaluated cost-effectiveness. CONCLUSION: There is a need to develop mHealth interventions tailored for adolescents which are theoretically informed and incorporate effective behaviour change techniques. Such interventions, if low cost, have the potential to be a cost-effective means to improve the sexual and reproductive health outcomes in SSA.


Onukwugha FI, Smith L, Kaseje D, Wafula C, Kaseje M, Orton B, Hayter M, Magadi M




  • Population(s)
    • Children or Youth (less than 18 years old)
    • General HIV+ population
    • General HIV- population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Prevention
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Treatment
  • Prevention
    • Sexual risk behaviour
  • Health Systems
    • Financial arrangements


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