JMIR Formative Research
Process evaluations, early results, and feasibility/pilot studies of digital and non-digital interventions
JMIR Formative Research (JFR, ISSN 2561-326X, Impact Factor 2.2) 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, JFR 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.
JFR 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 JFR (and their evaluation protocols to JMIR Research Protocols).
In 2023, JMIR Formative Research received an inaugural Journal Impact Factor™ of 2.2 (Source: Journal Citation Reports™ from Clarivate, 2023). JFR is indexed in PubMed, PubMed Central, DOAJ, Scopus, and the Emerging Sources Citation Index (Clarivate).
Generation Z (Gen Z) and young millennials (GenZennials) (ages 18-35 years) are unique in that they either have no memory of or were born shortly after the internet “explosion.” They are constantly on the internet, face significant challenges with their mental health and sleep, and are frequent users of digital wellness apps. GenZennials also uniquely identify with and practice spirituality, which has been linked to better mental health and sleep in adult populations. Research has not examined digital approaches to spiritual self-care and its relationship to mental health and sleep in GenZennials.
Parkinson disease (PD) is a complex neurodegenerative disorder that afflicts over 10 million people worldwide, resulting in debilitating motor and cognitive impairment. In the United States alone (with approximately 1 million cases), the economic burden for treating and caring for persons with PD exceeds US $50 billion and myriad therapeutic approaches are under development, including both symptomatic- and disease-modifying agents. The challenges presented in addressing PD are compounded by observations that numerous, statistically distinct patient phenotypes present with a wide variety of motor and nonmotor symptomatic profiles, varying responses to current standard-of-care symptom-alleviating medications (L-DOPA and dopaminergic agonists), and different disease trajectories. The existence of these differing phenotypes highlights the opportunities in personalized approaches to symptom management and disease control. The prodromal period of PD can span across several decades, allowing the potential to leverage the unique array of composite symptoms presented to trigger early interventions. This may be especially beneficial as disease progression in PD (alongside Alzheimer disease and Huntington disease) may be influenced by biological processes such as oxidative stress, offering the potential for individual lifestyle factors to be tailored to delay disease onset. In this viewpoint, we offer potential scenarios where emerging diagnostic and monitoring strategies might be tailored to the individual patient under the tenets of P4 medicine (predict, prevent, personalize, and participate). These approaches may be especially relevant as the causative factors and biochemical pathways responsible for the observed neurodegeneration in patients with PD remain areas of fluid debate. The numerous observational patient cohorts established globally offer an excellent opportunity to test and refine approaches to detect, characterize, control, modify the course, and ultimately stop progression of this debilitating disease. Such approaches may also help development of parallel interventive strategies in other diseases such as Alzheimer disease and Huntington disease, which share common traits and etiologies with PD. In this overview, we highlight near-term opportunities to apply P4 medicine principles for patients with PD and introduce the concept of composite orthogonal patient monitoring.
Mental illness is a pervasive worldwide public health issue. Residentially vulnerable populations, such as those living in rural medically underserved areas (MUAs) or mental health provider shortage areas (MHPSAs), face unique access barriers to mental health care. Despite the growth of digital mental health interventions using relational agent technology, little is known about their use patterns, efficacy, and favorability among residentially vulnerable populations.
Effective COVID-19 vaccines have been available since early 2021 yet many Americans refuse or delayed uptake. As of mid-2022, still around 30% of US adults remain unvaccinated against COVID-19. The majority (81%) of these unvaccinated adults say they will “definitely not” be getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Understanding the determinants of COVID-19 vaccine uptake is critical to reducing death and illness from the virus, as well as to inform future vaccine efforts, such as the more recent bivalent (omicron) booster.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges to health care systems, particularly impacting the older population due to their vulnerability and increased susceptibility to severe complications. Many of the most vulnerable individuals rely on informal caregivers, who play a vital role in enabling them to continue living in their homes. However, social isolation and limited access to health services during the pandemic have made caregiving more difficult. In response, massive open online courses (MOOCs) have emerged as a training and support solution for caregivers. This study focuses on a MOOC developed to assist caregivers during the pandemic, aiming to enhance their knowledge of COVID-19 and prevention measures and promote effective self-care practices.
Mobile health (mHealth) interventions among adolescents and young adults (AYAs) are increasingly available in African low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). For example, the unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) could be used to verify HIV self-testing (HIVST) among AYAs with poor bandwidth.
COVID-19 had a considerable impact on mortality, but its effect on behaviors associated with social media remains unclear. As travel decreased due to lockdowns during the pandemic, selfie-related mortality may have decreased, as fewer individuals were taking smartphone photographs in risky locations.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of telehealth services for remote mental health care provision. Although studies indicate that telehealth can enhance the efficiency of service delivery and might be favored or even preferred by certain clients, its use varied after the pandemic. Once the pandemic-related restrictions eased, some regions curtailed their telehealth offerings, whereas others sustained them. Understanding the factors that influenced these decisions can offer valuable insights for evidence-based decision-making concerning the future of telehealth in mental health services.
The emerging field of epidemiological criminology studies the intersection between public health and justice systems. To increase the value of and reduce waste in research activities in this area, it is important to perform transparent research priority setting considering the needs of research beneficiaries and end users along with a systematic assessment of the existing research activities to address gaps and harness opportunities.
Stress, anxiety, and depression are major mental health concerns worldwide. A wide variety of digital mental health interventions have demonstrated efficacy in improving one’s mental health status, and digital interventions that involve some form of human involvement have been shown to demonstrate greater efficacy than self-guided digital interventions. Studies demonstrating the efficacy of digital mental health interventions within the Asian region are scarce.
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