Interculturally Competent Analysis of the Uptake of Routine Vaccination (2015-2016)

In recent years, many public health initiatives promoting vaccination uptake in infants have begun to leverage the growing mobile-cellular subscription base in developing countries – either by sending reminders on upcoming vaccinations to caregivers using inexpensive voice or text messaging services, or via provision of smart digital data collection and management systems on phones that enable frontline community health workers keep track of vaccination histories and coverage indicators.

However, gender gaps in mobile phone ownership and use still remain a barrier to the effectiveness of these mobile health (or “mHealth”) services in improving vaccination uptake at the household level. While mothers are typically the primary recipients of mHealth reminder services for their infants and also the ones most likely to bring the infants to the vaccination clinics, they are most often not the primary owners or users of mobile devices in their household.

This Bass Connections team conducted an interculturally competent comparative analysis of the uptake of routine childhood vaccination services in two rural settings: Kumasi, Ghana (low vaccination rates), and Roatan, Honduras (high vaccination rates). Given cultural perceptions and differences, it becomes crucial that healthcare professionals and global health researchers are competent in working across cultures – not just in terms of their training, but also in terms of communication skills.

Student team members received training in hypothesis testing, research design, survey data collection, quantitative analysis and intercultural competence through didactic and experiential learning opportunities. In Summer 2016, the team traveled to both sites to assess the attitudes and practices affecting vaccination rates as well as gender differences in mobile phone ownership and use. The team’s research found high acceptability among partners in Honduras for deploying and using these technologies for data collection and coordinating activities, including tracing and reminding defaulting families about upcoming vaccinations for their children.


August 2015 – December 2016


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Kristen Larson, Biology and Global Health ’17

See related team, mHealth for Better Routine Immunization Data in Honduras (2017-2018).

Team Leaders

  • Dennis Clements, School of Medicine-Pediatrics: Infectious Diseases
  • Darla Deardorff, Center for International and Global Studies-Center for International Studies
  • Lavanya Vasudevan, School of Medicine-Family Medicine and Community Health

/graduate Team Members

  • Adeola Awodele, Global Health - MSc
  • Hannah Cunningham, Biomedical Sciences

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Kristen Larson, Biology (BS), Global Health (AB2)
  • John Lu, Chemistry (BS), Mathematics (AB2)