JMIR Formative Research

Process evaluations, early results, and feasibility/pilot studies of digital and non-digital interventions

Editor-in-Chief:

Gunther Eysenbach, MD, MPH, FACMI


JMIR Formative Research publishes peer-reviewed, openly accessible papers containing results from process evaluations, feasibility/pilot studies and other kinds of formative research and preliminary results. While the original focus was on the design of medical- and health-related research and technology innovations, JMIR Formative Research publishes studies from all areas of medical and health research.

Formative research is research that occurs before a program is designed and implemented, or while a program is being conducted. Formative research can help

  • define and understand populations in need of an intervention or public health program
  • create programs that are specific to the needs of those populations
  • ensure programs are acceptable and feasible to users before launching
  • improve the relationship between users and agencies/research groups
  • demonstrate the feasibility, use, satisfaction with, or problems with a program before large-scale summative evaluation (looking at health outcomes)

Many funding agencies will expect some sort of pilot/feasibility/process evaluation before funding a larger study such as a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT).

Formative research should be an integral part of developing or adapting programs, and should be used while the program is ongoing to help refine and improve program activities. Thus, formative evaluation can and should also occur in the form of a process evaluation alongside a summative evaluation such as an RCT.

This journal fills an important gap in the academic journals landscape, as it publishes sound and peer-reviewed formative research that is critical for investigators to apply for further funding, but that is usually not published in outcomes-focused medical journals aiming for impact and generalizability.

Summative evaluations of programs and apps/software that have undergone a thorough formative evaluation before launch have a better chance to be published in high-impact flagship journals; thus, we encourage authors to submit - as a first step - their formative evaluations in JMIR Formative Research (and their evaluation protocols in JMIR Research Protocols). 

JMIR Formative Research has been accepted for indexing in PubMed and PubMed Central.

Recent Articles

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Pain is difficult to manage in older adults. It has been recommended that pain management in older adults should include both nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic strategies. Unfortunately, nonadherence to pain medication is more prevalent than nonadherence to any other chronic disease treatment. Technology-based reminders have some benefit for medication adherence, but adherence behavior outcomes have mostly been verified by self-reports.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

An electronic system that automatically collects medical information can realize timely monitoring of patient health and improve the effectiveness and accuracy of medical treatment. To our knowledge, the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in medical service quality assessment has been minimally evaluated, especially for clinical nutrition departments in China. From the perspective of medical ethics, patient safety comes before any other factors within health science, and this responsibility belongs to the quality management system (QMS) within medical institutions.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The period of regular contractions before 4 cm of cervical dilatation is often referred to as the latent phase or early labor. Women find it challenging to prepare for and cope with this phase of labor, and easily accessed web-based information from reliable sources may be useful in this preparation.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Most people with COVID-19 self-manage at home. However, the condition can deteriorate quickly, and some people may develop serious hypoxia with relatively few symptoms. Early identification of deterioration allows effective management with oxygen and steroids. Telemonitoring of symptoms and physiological signs may facilitate this.

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Reviews on Usage or other Formative Evaluation Metrics

Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) is a set of research methods that capture events, feelings, and behaviors as they unfold in their real-world setting. Capturing data in the moment reduces important sources of measurement error but also generates challenges for noncompliance (ie, missing data). To date, EMA research has only examined the overall rates of noncompliance.

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Development and Evaluation of Research Methods, Instruments and Tools

Although established marketing techniques have been applied to design more effective health campaigns, more often than not, the same message is broadcasted to large populations, irrespective of unique characteristics. As individual digital device use has increased, so have individual digital footprints, creating potential opportunities for targeted digital health interventions. We propose a novel precision public health campaign framework to structure and standardize the process of designing and delivering tailored health messages to target particular population segments using social media–targeted advertising tools. Our framework consists of five stages: defining a campaign goal, priority audience, and evaluation metrics; splitting the target audience into smaller segments; tailoring the message for each segment and conducting a pilot test; running the health campaign formally; and evaluating the performance of the campaigns. We have demonstrated how the framework works through 2 case studies. The precision public health campaign framework has the potential to support higher population uptake and engagement rates by encouraging a more standardized, concise, efficient, and targeted approach to public health campaign development.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Obesity underlies much chronic disease. Digitalization of obesity management provides an opportunity to innovate our traditional model of health care delivery within this setting, and to transform its scalability potentially to the population level.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Social distancing measures meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the past year have exacerbated loneliness and depression in the United States. While virtual tools exist to improve social connections, there have been limited attempts to assess community-based, virtual methods to promote new social connections.

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Early Results from COVID-19 Studies

The COVID-19 Peritraumatic Distress Index (CPDI) is a self-report questionnaire developed to evaluate the frequency of anxiety and depression symptoms among individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent study in China showed high CPDI scores among individuals in the 18-30 years age group and those over 60 years. During the COVID-19 outbreak, people were expected to maintain their mental health conditions, especially stress levels. Therefore, many national governments actively published health promotion media in an effort to educate the public. One such media developed by the Ministry of Health, Republic of Indonesia, was a poster titled “Hindari Stres dan Tetap Optimis dengan Melakukan Aktivitas Sehari-hari dan Tetap Menjaga Jarak.”

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a rapid increase in the use of telehealth services at the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which was accelerated by state and local policies mandating stay-at-home orders and restricting nonurgent in-person appointments. Even though the VA was an early adopter of telehealth in the late 1990s, the vast majority of VA outpatient care continued to be face-to-face visits through February 2020.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Firearms are common in the households of persons with Alzheimer disease and related dementias (ADRD). Safety in Dementia (SiD) is a free web-based decision aid that was developed to support ADRD caregivers in addressing firearm access.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Indoor air pollution is a well-known risk factor that triggers and exacerbates asthma, the most common pediatric chronic disease. Using a mobile app to monitor indoor air quality could be promising in engaging children in keeping their indoor air quality clean and healthy as secondary environmental prevention for asthma management. However, no app is available to allow children to monitor, assess, and improve their indoor air quality.

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Preprints Open for Peer-Review

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Open Peer Review Period:

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