LUCY, a mobile health app developed to provide pregnant women and new mothers with comprehensive and evidence-based health information, has had a positive impact on the health-seeking behaviour and awareness of maternal-health knowledge of users in Suriname, according to a recent study conducted by Jessica Trollip, a Global Health master student studying at the VU in Amsterdam.
Over the last five months, Jessica has been conducting her internship at Health[e]Foundation where she focused on exploring the impact of LUCY on the health-seeking behaviour and pregnancy and newborn related knowledge in Suriname. LUCY includes features such as health information and growth messages, appointment and vaccination trackers, and a mood tracker. In addition, users in Suriname have access to a low-key communication tool through WhatsApp that connects to a healthcare professional who can answer questions that may arise during and after pregnancy.
Jessica’s research included a statistical analysis of LUCY user data, a quantitative survey of current users, and four semi-structured interviews with LUCY users. The findings highlight the extent to which LUCY has been introduced into the Surinamese market, with respondents learning about it from their healthcare provider, via word of mouth, and through advertisements. There was additionally a diverse range of demographics in terms of educational level, age, ethnicity, district, and marital status, represented. Furthermore, the study discovered that LUCY users’ health-seeking behaviour was influenced similarly regardless of demographics such as ethnicity, district, and education level. Although, users between the ages of 18 to 34, as well as those who used LUCY during their first pregnancy, were slightly more likely to agree that LUCY had influenced their health-seeking behaviour. Additionally, LUCY users feel more confident in their own knowledge and ability to seek out care and adhere to the recommended ANC/PNC schedules.
All interviews confirmed that LUCY compliments the services provided by their health-care provider. While this is only reported by users, accurate and complementary health information is a core component of successful mHealth applications. One interviewee relayed the positive impact of the mental well-being tracker on their own mental health. They highlighted that it was helpful to be able to track their mental well-being over time and show their health-care provider. The knowledge of knowing their own mental well-being over time increased their awareness of their own health during her pregnancy.
“When I open my Lucy app and I see I have an appointment coming up, I see the date immediately … it’s one big help.” – LUCY User
“Getting Instructions from the LUCY app help me feel more confident about my pregnancy.” – LUCY User
These quotes demonstrate the positive impact that LUCY has had, not only on the health-seeking behaviour of users, but also on the knowledge and awareness of pregnancy-related knowledge.
Overall, the study confirms the potential of mHealth tools like LUCY to address barriers to accessing health information and improve the health-seeking behaviour of pregnant women and new mothers, especially when the information complements the care provided by healthcare providers. The results also showed that LUCY users reported a positive influence on their health, their awareness and knowledge of pregnancy-related topics, and their intentions to take care of themselves and their newborns.