Mobile health (mHealth) interventions – in which mobile phones are used to advance positive health outcomes – have only recently been applied to addressing broader questions of health governance. This report discusses research on a mobile phone app that was designed to create a coordinated platform through which rape victims could express their views on the quality of services and support offered by police and health-care workers in South Africa, in order to promote greater accountability between service providers and clients.
The study, which assessed the feasibility and acceptability of the proposed app, comprised qualitative and quantitative research with rape victims and caregivers accessing follow-up services at four rape care centres in Tshwane district, Pretoria. Of 140 participants enrolled in the study (108 rape victims and 32 caregivers), 86.4% reported owning a mobile phone. However, the results also revealed that mobile phone theft during sexual assault was common, with 34 out of 63 participants (55%) who did not bring their mobile phones to their first visit to the facility reporting that their phone had been stolen during the assault.
Nonetheless, the findings confirmed the feasibility of the app, which was subsequently developed and piloted. In addition, high levels of interest in using mobile phones to provide feedback on the quality of service delivery (95%) showed the potential value of such an intervention for improved communication between service users and providers.
Key themes in this paper are:
- How can mHealth interventions be used to improve the accountability of service provision?
- What factors influence the feasibility and acceptability of a mobile app for rape victims?
- What are the barriers more accountable post-rape services in South Africa?
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