Impact of mobile phone delivered reminders and unconditional incentives on measles-containing vaccine timeliness and coverage: a randomised controlled trial in western Kenya

Kagucia EW, Ochieng B, Were J, Hayford K, Obor D, O'Brien KL, Gibson DG
BMJ Glob Health. 2021;6

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INTRODUCTION: Short message service (SMS) reminders coupled with a small monetary incentive conditioned on prompt vaccination have been shown to improve first-dose measles-containing vaccine (MCV1) uptake. We assessed whether SMS reminders and unconditional monetary incentives-more amenable to programmatic implementation-can improve MCV1 uptake in Kenya. METHODS: Caregivers of eligible infants aged 6-8 months were enrolled into an individually randomised controlled trial and assigned to receive either: no intervention (control), two SMS reminders (SMS) sent 3 days, and 1 day before the scheduled MCV1 date, or SMS reminders coupled with a Kenya Shilling (KES) 150 incentive (SMS +150 KES) sent 3 days before the scheduled MCV1 date. Study staff conducted a household follow-up visit at age 12 months to ascertain vaccination status. Log-binomial regression was used to estimate the relative and absolute difference in MCV1 timely coverage (by age 10 months), the primary outcome. RESULTS: Between 6 December 2016 and 31 March 2017, 179 infants were enrolled into each of the three study arms. Follow-up visits were completed between 19 April 2017 and 8 October 2017 for control (n=170), SMS (n=157) and SMS + 150 KES (n=158) children. MCV1 timely coverage was 68% among control arm infants compared with 78% in each intervention arm. This represented a non-statistically significant increase in the SMS arm (adjusted relative risk 1.13; 95% CI 0.99 to 1.30; p=0.070; adjusted risk difference 9.2%; 95% CI: -0.6 to 19.0%; p=0.066), but a statistically significant increase in the SMS + 150 KES arm (1.16; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.32; p=0.035; 10.6%; 95% CI 0.8 to 20.3%; p=0.034). CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that the effect of SMS reminders coupled with a small unconditional monetary incentive on MCV1 uptake is comparable to that of SMS reminders alone, limiting their utility. Further studies in the absence of unexpected supply-side constraints are needed. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT02904642.