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A randomised controlled trial of an intervention delivered by app instant messaging to increase the acceptability of effective contraception among young people in Tajikistan: study protocol

22 Sep 2017


Women in lower income countries experience unintended pregnancies at a higher rate compared with women in higher income countries. Unintended pregnancy is associated with numerous poorer health outcomes for both women and their children. In Tajikistan, an estimated 26% of married individuals aged 15–24 years have an unmet need for contraception. The strong cultural value placed on childbearing and oppositional attitudes towards contraception are major barriers to contraceptive uptake in the country.

Mobile phone ownership is widespread in Tajikistan. The option of receiving reproductive health support on your personal phone may be an appealing alternative to attending a clinic, particularly for young people. The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the Tajik Family Planning Association have partnered to develop and evaluate a contraceptive behavioural intervention delivered by mobile phone. The intervention was developed in 2015–2016 guided by behavioural science. It consists of short instant messages sent through an app over 4 months, contains information about contraception and behaviour change methods.

Methods and analysis

This randomised controlled trial is designed to evaluate the effect of the intervention on self-reported acceptability of effective contraception at 4 months. 570 men and women aged 16–24 years will be allocated with a ratio of 1:1 to receive the intervention messages or the control messages about trial participation. The messages will be sent through the Tajik Family Planning Association’s ‘healthy lifestyles’ app, which contains basic information about contraception.

Ethics and dissemination

The trial was granted ethical approval by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Interventions Research Ethics Committee on 16 May 2016 and by the Tajik National Scientific and Research Centre on Paediatrics and Child Surgery on 15 April 2016. The results of the trial will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals and disseminated to study stakeholders.

Trial registration number NCT02905513.

Date of registration

14 September 2016.

WHO trial registration dataset

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open