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Mobile health applications for improving access to and information about safe abortion

Caitlin Gerdts, University of California, San Francisco, 2013

Project abstract

Dr. Caitlin Gerdts seeks an SFP Junior Investigator’s Career Development Award to support her training in the emerging field of mHealth—the use of mobile technologies to support the achievement of health objectives—and apply this training to the development of a safe abortion mHealth smartphone application.

Mobile phones have rapidly evolved as tools for health promotion and disease prevention in low-resource settings. In contexts where mobile phones are prevalent but healthcare access is limited, mHealth programs have been shown to increase knowledge and agency, thereby improving health outcomes. To date, however, no mHealth program has been evaluated for improving access to, or providing information about, safe abortion.

The mHealth training that Dr. Gerdts will receive through this award is a critical step in her goal of establishing herself as an expert in the intersection of mHealth and international abortion research. Under the proposed award, Dr. Gerdts will expand her current research on unsafe abortion to include research on the potential avenues for increasing safe abortion access through mHealth in Indonesia. Specifically, she will 1) Determine information needs, mobile use patterns, and desirable features for a safe abortion mHealth smartphone application; 2) Develop content for a safe abortion mHealth smartphone application; 3) Assess comprehension and satisfaction with mHealth content.

The findings generated from this research will serve as the foundation for future research on the potential for mobile technologies to fill the gap in women’s access to, and information channels for, safe abortion.

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