The effects of mobile health on emergency care in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review and narrative synthesis

W Tyler Winders, Stephanie C Garbern, Corey B Bills, Pryanka Relan, Megan L Schultz, Indi Trehan, Sean M Kivlehan, Torben K Becker, Ruth McQuillan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In resource-constrained settings, mobile health (mHealth) has varied applications. While there is strong evidence for its use in chronic disease management, the applications of mHealth for management of acute illness in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are not as well described. This review systematically explores current available evidence on the effectiveness of mHealth interventions at improving health outcomes in emergency care settings in LMICs.

Methods: A systematic search of the literature was performed in accordance with PRISMA guidelines, utilizing seven electronic databases and manual searches to identify peer-reviewed literature containing each of three search elements: mHealth, emergency care (EC), and LMICs. Articles quality was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) criteria.

Results: After removing duplicates, 6498 studies met initial search criteria; 108 were eligible for full text review and 46 met criteria for inclusion. Thirty-six pertained to routine emergency care, and 10 involved complex humanitarian emergencies. Based on the GRADE criteria, 15 studies were rated as "Very Low" quality, 24 as "Low" quality, 6 as "Moderate" quality, and 1 as "High" quality. Eight studied data collection, 9 studied decision support, 15 studied direct patient care, and 14 studied health training. All 46 studies reported positive impacts of mHealth on EC in LMICs.

Conclusions: Mobile health interventions can be effective in improving provider-focused and patient-centered outcomes in both routine and complex EC settings. Future investigations focusing on patient-centered outcomes are needed to further validate these findings.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11.04023
Pages (from-to)1 - 16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Global Health
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2021


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