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Tracking health seeking behavior during an Ebola outbreak via mobile phones and SMS
Authors: Shuo Feng, Karen A. Grépin, and Rumi Chunara
Source: npj Digital Medicine, 1(Article number 51); DOI: 10.1038/s41746-018-0055-z
Topic(s): Health care utilization
Country: Africa
Published: OCT 2018
Abstract: The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa was an exemplar for the need to rapidly measure population-level health-seeking behaviors, in order to understand healthcare utilization during emergency situations. Taking advantage of the high prevalence of mobile phones, we deployed a national SMS-poll and collected data about individual-level health and health-seeking behavior throughout the outbreak from 6694 individuals from March to June 2015 in Liberia. Using propensity score matching to generate balanced subsamples, we compared outcomes in our survey to those from a recent household survey (the 2013 Liberian Demographic Health Survey). We found that the matched subgroups had similar patterns of delivery location in aggregate, and utilizing data on the date of birth, we were able to show that facility-based deliveries were significantly decreased during, compared to after the outbreak (p?