Identifying grassroots opportunities and barriers to mHealth design for HIV/AIDS using a communicative ecologies framework

Jeremy John Watkins, Emma Baulch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The aim of this qualitative study was to test how social and cultural research methods can be used to anticipate opportunities and barriers to the use of consumer mobile devices by community health workers (CHWs) for HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and treatment. An exploratory study was conducted with CHWs (n = 19) at the regional capitals of Denpasar and Makassar in Indonesia in order to build to a clearer picture of how the participants have integrated personal mobile handsets into their daily professional and personal routine. A communicative ecologies framework was applied to the research design which included a range of qualitative methods including in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and communicative ecology mapping. Our main findings revealed that there was no bottom-up impetus for the introduction of a formal mHealth system to support client interactions. Existing client data collection systems were locked into paper-based systems to ensure compatibility with local government and/or funding body administrative systems; hence, mobile device-based data collection would require additional processes by the participants. Boundary issues were reported with regard to out of hours contact by clients. Some CHWs sent SMS medication reminders to clients but the strong preference indicated by all participating CHWs was to meet clients face-to-face in order to build and maintain trust through the in-person counselling process, rather than introduce mobile-mediated interaction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationmHealth Innovation in Asia
EditorsEmma Baulch, Jerry Watkins, Amina Tariq
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9789402412512
ISBN (Print)9789402412505, 9789402415155
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2018

Publication series

NameMobile Communication in Asia: Local Insights, Global Implications
ISSN (Print)2468-2403
ISSN (Electronic)2468-2411


  • community health workers
  • communicative ecologies
  • mobile phones
  • Indonesia

Cite this