Smart Client and Smart Couple: Digital Health Tools to Empower Women and Couples for Family Planning
User Studies of the Smart Client and Smart Couple tools are now available, along with results and resources related to these family planning tools.
Smart Client is a digital health tool that provides women with information to prepare them for accessing family planning services. It empowers women to be informed and confident users of family planning methods. The content is somewhat like a radio magazine program with different segments including a drama, testimonial, sample dialogue and chats with the program hosts. The content, however, is delivered via mobile phone using interactive voice response (IVR) technology which allows users to select the content they want to hear by pressing keys on their phone keypad (e.g. “Press one to hear the personal story from Rabi, Press two for the dialogue between the nurse and client…”).
Smart Couple shares much of the same content as Smart Client, but it also includes an additional segment from the male perspective and prompts, delivered via SMS, to encourage couple communication.
Both tools were tested in Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire and then larger user studies were conducted in Kaduna, Nigeria to evaluate the effects of the tools. Participants in the user studies had very positive feedback about their experience using the tools. Furthermore, both tools had a significant positive impact on users’ beliefs and intentions related to family planning. For example, women exposed to the Smart Client tool were twice as likely to feel confident discussing family planning with a provider, compared to those who didn’t use the tool. Likewise, after being exposed to the Smart Couple tool, nearly 92% of women and men reported having discussed family planning with their spouse, up from 58.2% and 55.4% of women and men, respectively, prior to the study.
The Smart Client and Smart Couple tools were developed with the intention to be adopted and adapted by other family planning projects seeking another channel for reaching their target audience. To this end, the tool documents, including the background, objectives and approach; the full scripts; and an Adaptation Guide, are also all now available. In addition, the audio files are available upon request.
The Adaptation Guide is a key document for other programs interested in using the Smart Client and/or Smart Couple tools. The Guide provides tips that are based on the experiences of adapting Smart Client for use in Cote d’Ivoire and also from testing and studying the tools. For instance, through all of the testing we found that users of the tools stayed on the calls for an average of 4.5 to six minutes, despite there being upwards of 15 minutes of content per call. Based on this finding, it is recommended to trim the content or limit the number of segments in future iterations of the tools. The Adaptation Guide also provides useful information on translating to different cultural contexts, picking an IVR platform and testing, monitoring and evaluating the tools.
With all of these resources, we hope other programs will also launch the Smart Client and Smart Couple tools so others may have access to information about family planning counseling and methods – just a phone call away.
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