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Journal Description

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:

  • Digital Health solution console. Source: Tiatros, Inc.; Copyright: Tiatros, Inc.; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Natural Language Processing Tools for Assessing Progress and Outcome of Two Veteran Populations: Cohort Study From a Novel Online Intervention for...


    Background: Over 100 million Americans lack affordable access to behavioral health care. Among these, military veterans are an especially vulnerable population. Military veterans require unique behavioral health services that can address military experiences and challenges transitioning to the civilian sector. Real-world programs to help veterans successfully transition to civilian life must build a sense of community, have the ability to scale, and be able to reach the many veterans who cannot or will not access care. Digitally based behavioral health initiatives have emerged within the past few years to improve this access to care. Our novel behavioral health intervention teaches mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy and narrative therapy using peer support groups as guides, with human-facilitated asynchronous online discussions. Our study applies natural language processing (NLP) analytics to assess effectiveness of our online intervention in order to test whether NLP may provide insights and detect nuances of personal change and growth that are not currently captured by subjective symptom measures. Objective: This paper aims to study the value of NLP analytics in assessing progress and outcomes among combat veterans and military sexual assault survivors participating in novel online interventions for posttraumatic growth. Methods: IBM Watson and Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count tools were applied to the narrative writings of combat veterans and survivors of military sexual trauma who participated in novel online peer-supported group therapies for posttraumatic growth. Participants watched videos, practiced skills such as mindfulness meditation, told their stories through narrative writing, and participated in asynchronous, facilitated online discussions with peers. The writings, including online postings, by the 16 participants who completed the program were analyzed after completion of the program. Results: Our results suggest that NLP can provide valuable insights on shifts in personality traits, personal values, needs, and emotional tone in an evaluation of our novel online behavioral health interventions. Emotional tone analysis demonstrated significant decreases in fear and anxiety, sadness, and disgust, as well as increases in joy. Significant effects were found for personal values and needs, such as needing or desiring closeness and helping others, and for personality traits of openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (ie, emotional range). Participants also demonstrated increases in authenticity and clout (confidence) of expression. NLP results were generally supported by qualitative observations and analysis, structured data, and course feedback. Conclusions: The aggregate of results in our study suggest that our behavioral health intervention was effective and that NLP can provide valuable insights on shifts in personality traits, personal values, and needs, as well as measure changes in emotional tone. NLP’s sensitivity to changes in emotional tone, values, and personality strengths suggests the efficacy of NLP as a leading indicator of treatment progress.

  • Source: Photo from Pixabay edited by Bart Seppen; Copyright: Pixabay; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Feasibility of Self-Monitoring Rheumatoid Arthritis With a Smartphone App: Results of Two Mixed-Methods Pilot Studies


    Background: Several mobile apps that monitor symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) exist, but a recent systematic review indicated that high-quality apps are lacking. When patients self-monitor their own disease with patient-reported outcomes (PROs) and self-initiate care at the right moment, it may be possible to reduce the frequency of their clinic visits, which would reduce health care burden and costs. We developed an app, that is, the MijnReuma Reade app, for this purpose and performed 2 pilot tests with weekly self-monitoring. Objective: The primary objective of this study was to design, develop, and evaluate the usability, satisfaction, and usage of the MijnReuma Reade app—an app that allows patients with RA to monitor their own disease. The secondary objective was to review the patients’ perspectives on app usage and its intended purpose. Methods: This app was designed in collaboration with patients with RA, rheumatologists, and information technology experts. Two 1-month pilot studies were performed, after which satisfaction (0-10 scale), usability (system usability scale, 0-100), and usage (proportion of completed questionnaires) of this app were assessed. After the second pilot study, semistructured interviews were performed to determine patients’ perspectives and the promoters and barriers of app usage. Results: In the first and second pilot study, 42 and 27 patients were included, respectively. Overall, the patients were satisfied (medians, 8 and 7) and found the app usable (mean system usability scores, 76 and 71) in pilot studies 1 and 2, respectively. App usage declined over time in both the pilot studies; 61% (17/28) and 37% (10/27) of the patients who disclosed their usage statistics completed the final weekly questionnaire in pilot study 1 and pilot study 2, respectively. Approximately 81% (25/31) of the patients indicated they would like to skip hospital visits if the self-monitored disease activity is low. In the semistructured interviews, technical problems, internal resistance (respondent fatigue, the app reminded them of their disease), and a lack of symptoms were identified as barriers for usage. Patients reported that “experiencing more grip on their disease” and “improved communication with their physician” were promoters for usage. Patients reported that pain positively mediated usage, that is, more pain promoted and less pain discouraged app usage. Conclusions: This study illustrates the feasibility of the MijnReuma Reade app that enables self-monitoring of the disease activity in patients with RA with the overarching aim to allocate clinical consultations according to need. Satisfaction with the app and usability of the app were found to be high; however, app usage declined over time. Patients acknowledged the potential of the app to self-monitor their own disease and would like to be able to skip clinic visits if the monitored disease activity is low. To evaluate this strategy, a randomized controlled trial is underway.

  • Screenshot of My NM Care Corner. Source: Image created by authors/Placeit; Copyright: The authors/Placeit; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Optimizing Health Information Technologies for Symptom Management in Cancer Patients and Survivors: Usability Evaluation


    Background: Unmanaged cancer symptoms and treatment-related side effects can compromise long-term clinical outcomes and health-related quality of life. Health information technologies such as web-based platforms offer the possibility to supplement existing care and optimize symptom management. Objective: This paper describes the development and usability of a web-based symptom management platform for cancer patients and survivors that will be implemented within a large health system. Methods: A web-based symptom management platform was designed and evaluated via one-on-one usability testing sessions. The System Usability Scale (SUS), After Scenario Questionnaire (ASQ), and qualitative analysis of semistructured interviews were used to assess program usability. Results: Ten cancer survivors and five cancer center staff members participated in usability testing sessions. The mean score on the SUS was 86.6 (SD 14.0), indicating above average usability. The mean score on the ASQ was 2.5 (SD 2.1), indicating relatively high satisfaction with the usability of the program. Qualitative analyses identified valued features of the program and recommendations for further improvements. Conclusions: Cancer survivors and oncology care providers reported high levels of acceptability and usability in the initial development of a web-based symptom management platform for cancer survivors. Future work will test the effectiveness of this web-based platform.

  • Source: Unsplash; Copyright: Aidan Bartos; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Evaluation of an Occupational Exercise Training Program for Firefighters: Mixed Methods Pilot Study


    Background: Occupational exercise training programs can improve overall health and fitness in firefighters, but evidence beyond clinical and performance outcomes is needed before fire departments invest in and successfully adopt health promotion programs. Objective: This mixed methods pilot study sought to pair clinical and performance outcomes with participants’ qualitative feedback (eg, participants’ enjoyment, lifestyle behavior changes, and team structure) with the goal of informing recommendations for future programs. Methods: Professional firefighters participated in a 14-week occupational exercise training program with assessments conducted pre- and posttraining. Clinical outcomes included weight, BMI, body fat percentage, resting heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure. Performance outcomes included the sharpened Romberg balance test, 1-repetition maximum leg press and bench press, graded exercise test (estimated VO2max), knee range of motion, shoulder flexibility, and hamstring flexibility. Self-administered surveys (Short Form-36, International Physical Activity Questionnaire, Barriers Self-Efficacy Scale, and Barriers to Being Active Quiz) were completed. In 3 private focus groups of 3 to 4 participants, firefighters' experiences in the training program and their health behaviors were explored. Results: Male firefighters (n=14; age: mean 36.4, SD 2.6 years) completed 20 training sessions. There were no significant changes to weight (P=.20), BMI (P=.15), body fat percentage (P=.16), systolic blood pressure (P=.12), estimated VO2max (P=.34), balance (P=.24), knee range of motion (left: P=.35; right: P=.31), or hamstring flexibility (P=.14). There was a significant decrease in diastolic blood pressure (P=.04) and significant increases in shoulder flexibility (P<.001) and leg press 1-repetition maximum volume (P=.04). Participants reported improvements in overall health, endurance, flexibility, and mood as well as improvements to team environment and health behaviors around the station; however, there was a decline in overcoming barriers to physical activity. Conclusions: A 14-week program of exercise training in firefighters elicited improvements in clinical, performance, and self-reported physical activity outcomes. This occupational exercise training program for firefighters increased time spent exercising, improved team building, and led to physical and mental health benefits. Results from this pilot study set a broad, informed, and meaningful foundation for future efforts to increase firefighter participation in occupational fitness programs.

  • Nursing staff conduct daily fever screening for outpatients and inpatients during COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial (CC-BY-NC).

    Knowledge and Psychological Stress Related to COVID-19 Among Nursing Staff in a Hospital in China: Cross-Sectional Survey Study


    Background: Since December 2019, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been rapidly spreading worldwide. Nurses play a key role in fighting this disease and are at risk of COVID-19 infection. Therefore, there is an urgent need to assess the mental health condition of nurses and establish appropriate interventions to reduce the negative psychiatric outcomes of the pandemic. Objective: The objectives of this study were to evaluate the knowledge and psychological stress related to COVID-19 among nursing staff and to provide evidence of the need for targeted training and psychological intervention. Methods: This cross-sectional web-based survey study was performed in a class 3 grade A general hospital in a southwest province of China from March 1 to March 15, 2020. A self-designed questionnaire with questions about COVID-19–related prevention and control knowledge and the Triage Assessment Form (TAF) were used to assess nursing staff’s knowledge of COVID-19 and their degree of psychological stress, respectively. SPSS 23.0 was applied for statistical analysis of the collected data. Results: A total of 979 nurses completed the questionnaire. The results showed that the nursing staff provided the fewest correct answers to questions about continuous viral nucleic acid testing specifications (379/979 correct answers, 38.7%), isolation/discharge criteria (539/979 correct answers, 55.1%), and management measures for patients with suspected symptoms (713/979 correct answers, 72.8%). The median total score of the TAF was 7.0 (IQR 5.0-12.0), and there were statistically significant differences in scores between different nursing roles, years of work experience, and hospital departments (P<.05). Conclusions: This study indicated that nursing staff have insufficient knowledge about COVID-19. Meanwhile, although the psychological damage to nurses during the pandemic was found to be low, nurse managers must continue to monitor the mental health of nursing staff and perform timely interventions.

  • Source: Unsplash; Copyright: Bruno Nascime; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Telerehabilitation to Address the Rehabilitation Gap in Anterior Cruciate Ligament Care: Survey of Patients


    Background: Evidence shows that after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, patients may have varied access to physical therapy. In particular, physical therapy input may end many months before patients reach full recovery. Telerehabilitation may provide an opportunity to address this rehabilitation gap and improve access to evidence-based rehabilitation alongside physical therapy at all stages of care. Objective: This study aims to understand the opinions of patients who have undergone ACL surgery and rehabilitation on the use of telerehabilitation as part of ACL care and define the population and explore their experiences and views on the acceptability of telerehabilitation after ACL reconstruction. Methods: This study was a cross-sectional, voluntary, web-based survey combining both closed and open questions. Ethical approval was obtained from the Yale School of Medicine Institutional Review Board. Participants were aged 16 years or older at the time of recruitment and had undergone ACL reconstruction within the past 5 years. A 26-item survey was developed using the Qualtrics survey platform. No items were mandatory. Responses were multiple choice, binary, and qualitative. The CHERRIES (Checklist for Reporting Results of Internet E-Surveys) was used to ensure the quality of reporting of surveys in the medical literature. Data were analyzed using Stata version 15. Qualitative data were analyzed using NVivo 11. The theoretical framework for this analysis is based on the Capability, Opportunity, and Motivation-Behavior model of behavior change. Results: A total of 100 participants opened the survey. All completers were unique. The participation and completion rates were each 96% (96/100). Patients reported their physical therapy care ended at an average of 6.4 months and that they felt fully recovered at an average of 13.2 months. Only 26% (25/96) of patients felt fully recovered at the end of physical therapy. Of these 96 patients, 54 (60%) were younger than 30 years, 71 (74%) were recreational athletes, 24 (24%) were competitive athletes, 72 (75%) had private insurance, 74 (77%) were not familiar at all with telerehabilitation, and 89% (85/96) felt capable. They preferred to use telerehabilitation at different stages of care. Reported benefits included resource saving, improved access to care, improved learning, and greater engagement. Concerns included incorrect performance of exercises or unmanaged pain being missed and less access to manual therapy, motivation, and opportunities to ask questions. Participants’ priorities for a future telerehabilitation intervention included its use as an adjunct to physical therapy rather than a replacement, with content available for each stage of care, especially return to sports. Participants stressed that the intervention should be personalized to them and include measures of progress. Conclusions: These findings helped understand and define the ACL reconstruction population. Participants found telerehabilitation acceptable in principle and highlighted the key user requirements and scope of future interventions.

  • Source: Pixabay; Copyright: FunkyFocus; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Role of a Digital Return-To-Work Solution for Individuals With Common Mental Disorders: Qualitative Study of the Perspectives of Three Stakeholder Groups


    Background: Although effective return-to-work (RTW) interventions are not widely available for individuals with common mental disorders on sick leave, there is potential for transforming such interventions into a digital solution in an effort to make them more widely available. However, little is currently known about the viewpoints of different stakeholder groups, which are critical for successful development and implementation of a digital RTW intervention in health care services. Objective: The aim of this study was to examine stakeholder groups’ perspectives on the role and legitimacy of a digital RTW solution called mWorks for individuals with common mental disorders who are on sick leave. Methods: A purposeful snowball sampling method was utilized to recruit respondents. Semistructured individual and focus group interviews were conducted for stakeholder groups of service users, RTW professionals, and influential managers regarding their experiences, needs, and preferences for mWorks. Content analysis generated themes and categories that constituted the main findings. Results: The legitimacy of a digital RTW solution was high among all stakeholder groups since such a tool was perceived to enable service users to take control over their RTW process. This was mainly a product of accessible support and promotion of service user decision making, which had the potential to empower service users. All respondents stressed the importance of fostering a positive user experience with usability and emphasis on service user resources and strengths, as opposed to various limitations and shortcomings. Stakeholder groups highlighted critical content to facilitate RTW, such as the need to clarify a back-to-work plan, accompanied by an accessible RTW network and strategies for handling mental health problems. Implementation challenges primarily involved influential managers’ concern of legislation incompatibility with innovative technology, and RTW professionals’ concern of the possibility that digital solutions may replace them to a certain extent. Conclusions: This formative research emphasizes the importance of shifting power from RTW professionals to service users. mWorks can play a role in mediating service user control over the RTW process, and thereby increase their empowerment. A digital RTW solution may facilitate the circumvention of implementation barriers associated with introducing evidence-based RTW interventions in a traditional RTW context.

  • Source: Freepik; Copyright: Freepik; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    MyPath to Home Web-Based Application for the Geriatric Rehabilitation Program at Bruyère Continuing Care: User-Centered Design and Feasibility Testing Study


    Background: When older adults return home from geriatric rehabilitation in a hospital, remembering the plethora of medical advice and medical instructions provided can be overwhelming for them and for their caregivers. Objective: The overall objective was to develop and test the feasibility of a novel web-based application called MyPath to Home that can be used to manage the personalized needs of geriatric rehabilitation patients during their transition from the hospital to home. Methods: This study involved (1) co-designing a patient- and clinician-tailored web-based application and (2) testing the feasibility of the application to manage the needs of geriatric rehabilitation patients when leaving the hospital. In phase 1, we followed a user-centered design process integrated with the modern agile software development methodology to iteratively co-design the application. The approach consisted of three cycles in which we engaged patients, caregivers, and clinicians to design a series of prototypes (cycles 1-3). In phase 2, we conducted a single-arm feasibility pilot test of MyPath to Home. Baseline and follow-up surveys, as well as select semistructured interviews were conducted. Results: In phase 1, semistructured interviews and talk-aloud sessions were conducted with patients/caregivers (n=5) and clinicians (n=17) to design the application. In phase 2, patients (n=30), caregivers (n=18), and clinicians (n=20) received access to use the application. Patients and their caregivers were asked to complete baseline and follow-up surveys. A total of 91% (21/23) of patients would recommend this application to other patients. In addition, clinicians (n=6) and patients/caregivers (n=6) were interviewed to obtain further details on the value of the web-based application with respect to engaging patients and facilitating communication and sharing of information with the health care team. Conclusions: We were successful at designing the MyPath to Home prototype for patients and their caregivers to engage with their clinicians during the transition from geriatric rehabilitation to home. Further work is needed to increase the uptake and usage by clinicians, and determine if this translates to meaningful changes in clinical and functional outcomes.

  • Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: University of Washington; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Protocol Development for HMU! (HIV Prevention for Methamphetamine Users), a Study of Peer Navigation and Text Messaging to Promote Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis...


    Background: Cisgender men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people (TGP) who use methamphetamine are disproportionately impacted by HIV acquisition. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is highly effective at preventing HIV, and interventions that support PrEP persistence and adherence should be evaluated among MSM and TGP who use methamphetamine. Objective: We conducted formative work to inform the development of text messaging and peer navigation interventions to support PrEP persistence and adherence among MSM and TGP who use methamphetamine. In this paper, we describe how the findings from these focus groups and interviews were used to refine the study interventions and protocol for the Hit Me Up! study (HMU!; HIV Prevention in Methamphetamine Users). Methods: Between October 2017 and March 2018, we conducted two focus groups and three in-depth interviews with MSM and TGP who use methamphetamine or who have worked with people who use methamphetamine. During these formative activities, we asked participants about their opinions on the proposed interventions, education and recruitment materials, and study design. We focused on how we could develop peer navigation and text messaging interventions that would be culturally appropriate and acceptable to MSM and TGP who use methamphetamine. Transcripts were reviewed by two authors who performed a retrospective content analysis to describe which specific opinions and recommendations influenced protocol development and the refinement of the interventions. Results: Overall, participants thought that MSM and TGP would be interested in participating in the study, although they expected recruitment and retention to be challenging. Participants thought that the peer navigator should be someone who is nonjudgmental, has experience with people who use methamphetamine, and is patient and flexible. There was consensus that three text messages per day were appropriate, adherence reminders should be straightforward, all messages should be nonjudgmental, and participants should be able to tailor the timing and content of the text messages. These suggestions were incorporated into the study interventions via the hiring and training process and into the development of the text library, platform selection, and customizability of messages. Conclusions: It is important to include the opinions and insights of populations most impacted by HIV to develop PrEP interventions with the greatest chance of success. Our formative work generated several recommendations that were incorporated into the interventions and protocol development for our ongoing study. Trial Registration: NCT03584282;

  • NoMoreC boy scouts on outreach activity in the gay night life of Amsterdam. Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: The authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + ShareAlike (CC-BY-NC-SA).

    Design and Implementation of a Multilevel Intervention to Reduce Hepatitis C Transmission Among Men Who Have Sex With Men in Amsterdam: Co-Creation and...


    Background: In the Netherlands, transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) occurs primarily among men who have sex with men (MSM). Early HCV testing of at-risk MSM and immediate initiation of treatment will prevent onward transmission, but this may not be sufficient to eliminate HCV in a population with ongoing risk behaviors. Therefore, targeted socioculturally acceptable preventive measures, including behavioral interventions, are urgently needed. Currently, little contextually appropriate information about HCV or risk reduction interventions is available. Objective: The objective of this project was to develop an intervention to reduce HCV transmission among MSM in Amsterdam through a co-creation process, with the input of men from the targeted community directly impacting intervention content, design, and implementation. Methods: We developed a multilevel intervention targeting 6 levels: individual, community, professional, context, patient, and network. The intervention was developed in close cooperation between health professionals, gay community members, commercial stakeholders, and stakeholders from within the gay community. The co-creation process had 4 phases: a needs assessment, stakeholder engagement, co-creation, and implementation. The co-creation phase continued until consensus was reached between the researchers and community members on the intervention content and design. The final intervention, NoMoreC, was completed within 2 years, and implementation started in February 2018. Results: NoMoreC includes web-based and face-to-face components as well as an anonymous HCV testing service. The NoMoreC website provides information about hepatitis C, HCV transmission routes, risk reduction strategies, testing and treatment options, and partner notification. The face-to-face component comprises a risk reduction toolbox, training for health professionals, and providing tailored advice to sex on premises venues. NoMoreC is promoted by an active voluntary campaign team. Conclusions: Involving the community and stakeholders in the creation of NoMoreC has been the main strength of this project. It has resulted in an intervention with various components that resonates with the gay community at risk of HCV infection. The uptake and acceptability of the described intervention will be evaluated in the future. The description of the co-creation process and implementation of the project may serve as a rich and useful source for others who want to develop culturally and context appropriate HCV interventions.

  • Source: Unsplash; Copyright: Matheus Ferrero; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    eHealth Communication With Clients at Community-Based HIV/AIDS Service Organizations in the Southern United States: Cross-Sectional Survey

    Authors List:


    Background: Providing HIV/STD testing and prevention education, medical and nonmedical case management, housing assistance, transportation services, and patient navigation are just a few examples of how community-based HIV/AIDS service organizations will help the United States realize the goals of the updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Objective: In this study, the aim was to assess electronic data security confidence level, electronic communication behaviors, and interest in using eHealth communication tools with clients of staff at community-based HIV/AIDS service organizations. Methods: Staff were recruited from 7 community-based HIV/AIDS service organizations in the southern United States (3 in South Carolina and 4 in Texas). The principal investigator used state department of health websites to identify community-based HIV/AIDS service organizations. Staff were included if they provided HIV/STD prevention education to clients. A recruitment letter was sent to community-based HIV/AIDS service organization leaders who then used snowball sampling to recruit eligible staff. Chi-square tests were used. Results: Among staff (n=59) who participated in the study, 66% (39/59) were very or completely confident that safeguards are in place to keep electronically shared information from being seen by other people; 68% (40/59) used email, 58% (34/59) used text messages, 25% (15/59) used social media, 15% (9/59) used a mobile app, 8% (5/59) used web-enabled videoconferencing, and 3% (2/59) used other tools (eg, electronic medical record, website) to communicate electronically with their clients. More than half were very interested in using eHealth communication tools in the future for sharing appointment reminders (67%, 38/59) and general health tips (61%, 34/59) with their clients. Half were very interested in using eHealth communication tools in the future to share HIV medication reminders with their clients (50%, 29/59). Forty percent (23/59) were very interested in using eHealth communication tools to share vaccination reminders with their clients. Conclusions: Community-based HIV/AIDS service organization staff had some level of confidence that safeguards were in place to keep electronically shared information from being seen by other people. This is critically important given the sensitivity of the information shared between community-based HIV/AIDS service organization staff and their clients, and because many staff were very interested in using eHealth communication tools with their clients in the future. It is very likely that eHealth communication tools can be used in community settings to improve health outcomes across the HIV care continuum; in the interim, more research is needed to better understand factors that may facilitate or impede community-based HIV/AIDS service organization staff use and client acceptability.

  • Source: Freepik; Copyright: Freepik; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    EHealth Literacy in UK Teenagers and Young Adults: Exploration of Predictors and Factor Structure of the eHealth Literacy Scale (eHEALS)


    Background: Increasingly, teenagers and young adults (TYAs) seek out health information online; however, it is not clear whether they possess electronic health (eHealth) literacy, defined as “the ability to select, appraise, and utilize good quality health information from the internet.” A number of factors are included in the Lily model proposed by Norman and Skinner underpinning the development of eHealth literacy. It is important to understand which elements may influence the development of eHealth literacy in young people, as the current generation will continue to “Google it” when faced with a health problem throughout their lives. Objective: The objectives of this study are to explore potential factors influencing young people’s eHealth literacy and explore the underlying constructs of the eHealth Literacy Scale (eHEALS) in a population of UK university students. Methods: A total of 188 undergraduate psychology students from a large UK University were recruited as an opportunity sample. Of these, 88.8% (167/188) of participants were female with a mean age of 20.13 (SD 2.16) years and the majority were White British (159/188, 84.6%). Employing a cross-sectional design TYAs completed the following measures exploring eHealth literacy (eHEALS): Irrational Health Belief Scale; Newest Vital Sign (NVS), a measure of functional health literacy; Need for Cognition Scale, a preference for effortful cognitive activity; and General Self-Efficacy (GSE) Scale, exploring personal agency and confidence. The eHEALS was also subject to exploratory factor analysis (EFA), for which in addition to the total variance explained, the scree plot, eigenvalues, and factor loadings were assessed to verify the structure. Results: eHEALS and GSE were significantly positively correlated (r=0.28, P<.001) and hierarchical linear modeling revealed GSE as the significant predictor of scores on the eHEALS (F1,186=16.16, P<.001, R2=0.08), accounting for 8.0% of the variance. Other notable relationships were GSE and need for cognition (NFC) were also positively correlated (r=0.33, P<.001), and NFC and irrational health beliefs were significantly negatively correlated (r=–.14, P=.03). Using Spearman correlations, GSE and NVS (rs=0.14, P=.04) and NFC and NVS (rs=0.19, P=.003) were positively correlated. An EFA revealed the scale to be stable and identified a 2-factor structure related to information acquisition and information application. Conclusions: This is the first study in the UK to explore relationships between these key variables and verify the structure of the eHEALS in a TYA population in the UK. The findings that self-efficacy has a major influence firmly consolidate its status as fundamental to the development of eHealth literacy. Future studies will explore the influence of body image and the development of eHealth literacy in more diverse TYA populations.

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  • Does the taste of the plain packaged cigarettes in Saudi Arabia really changed and differ from the branded cigarettes or it is a natural sensory change? Pilot Experimental Study

    Date Submitted: Sep 21, 2020

    Open Peer Review Period: Sep 20, 2020 - Nov 15, 2020

    Background: Saudi Arabia implemented tobacco plain packaging in August 2019. After few weeks of implementation huge number of smokers complained in various media channels especially social media (Twit...

    Background: Saudi Arabia implemented tobacco plain packaging in August 2019. After few weeks of implementation huge number of smokers complained in various media channels especially social media (Twitter) claiming extreme change of how the cigarette taste, increase the frequency of coughing, and for some hospitalization caused by shortness of breath. Objective: The main objective is to answer the question: Does the taste of the plain packaged cigarettes recently implemented in Saudi Arabia really changed and differ from the branded cigarettes or it is a natural sensory change? The secondary objective is to observation of frequency of immediate cough or shortness of breath. Methods: This study is a pilot prospective, one-group posttest-only design, which recruited smokers 18 years old and above, who are currently smoking cigarettes and cleared upon physical assessment before the experiment. Participants received 6 sequences of different random exposures (3 puffs) to 3 plain packaged cigarettes (2 from the favorite brand and 1 other brand “control”) and 3 branded cigarettes (2 from the favorite brand and 1 other brand “control”). Participants wore Virtual Reality Goggles (VR) accompany with a special software to alter the visual reality and wore gloves to alter the touch sensation. Results: Participants were not able to identify the correct type of cigarettes (plain or branded (Estimate of fixed effect -0.01 p=0.79). Moreover, there were no differences in the ability of the participants to identify their favorite brand t(-0.63) mean=0.47 p = 0.53. In terms of immediate coughing out of the 108 experiments 1 episode of short coughing was observed and it was attributed to the branded cigarette not the plain packaged. Conclusions: After controlling the visual and touch sensation participants were not able to difference between branded and plain packaged cigarettes in terms of taste or inducing immediate shortness of breath or cough. Interestingly, participants were not able to identify their favorite brand.

  • Arabic Translation and Validation of the Weight Self-Stigma Questionnaire: Factor Structure And Reliability

    Date Submitted: Sep 24, 2020

    Open Peer Review Period: Sep 7, 2020 - Oct 2, 2020

    Background: Besides its health impact, obesity is associated with serious self-stigmatization. The lack of a suitable and validated tool to measure weight-related self-stigma in Saudi Arabia may be pa...

    Background: Besides its health impact, obesity is associated with serious self-stigmatization. The lack of a suitable and validated tool to measure weight-related self-stigma in Saudi Arabia may be partly responsible for the scarcity of literature about this problem in the country. Objective: This study investigated the reliability and validity of an Arabic version of the Weight Self-Stigma Questionnaire (WSSQ). Methods: The study examined the test-retest reliability and exploratory-factor validation of the Arabic-translated version of the 12-item WSSQ. Data were collected with two cross-sectional electronic questionnaires distributed among Saudi nationals through the Sharik Health Research Database in June 2020. Weight Self-Stigma Internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and exploratory-factor analysis were assessed and compared with these metrics of the original English version of the WSSQ. Results: For reliability analysis, 43 participants completed the Arabic WSSQ in two periods: The internal consistency was 0.898; subscale Factor 1, 0.819; and subscale Factor 2, 0.847. The test-retest reliability of the intra-class correlation coefficient was 0.982. In the factor structure analysis, 295 participants completed the WSSQ once; the Arabic WSSQ loading of the items was consistent with the original WSSQ, except for loading of item 9, which loaded stronger in Factor 2 than in Factor 1; the two factors explain 47.7% and 10.6% of the variance. Conclusions: The Arabic version of the WSSQ has good internal consistency and reliability, and the factorial structure is like that of the original WSSQ. The Arabic WSSQ appears suitable for assessing weight-related self-stigma in Arabic-speaking people.

  • Long-Term Evaluation of Counselor Efficiency at Providing Feedback in a Randomized Controlled Trial Technology-Based Behavioral Weight Loss Intervention

    Date Submitted: Sep 5, 2020

    Open Peer Review Period: Aug 30, 2020 - Oct 25, 2020

    Background: Feedback for participants’ self-monitoring is a crucial, and costly, component of technology-based weight loss interventions. Detailed examination of interventionist time when reviewing...

    Background: Feedback for participants’ self-monitoring is a crucial, and costly, component of technology-based weight loss interventions. Detailed examination of interventionist time when reviewing and providing feedback for online self-monitoring data is unknown. Objective: Study purpose was to longitudinally examine time counselors spent providing feedback on participant self-monitoring data (i.e., diet, physical activity, weight) in a 12-month technology-based weight loss intervention. We hypothesized that counselors would deliver feedback to participants more quickly over time. Methods: Time counselors (N=10) spent reviewing and providing feedback to participants via electronic mail (e-email) was longitudinally examined for all counselors across the three years of study implementation. Descriptives were observed for counselor feedback duration across counselors by 12 annual quarters (i.e., three-month periods). Differences in overall duration times by each consecutive annual quarter were analyzed using Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney tests. Results: There was a decrease in counselor feedback duration from first to second quarter [Mean (M) = 53 to 46 minutes], and from second to third (M= 46 to 30). A trend suggested a decrease from third to fourth quarters (M = 30 to 26), but no changes were found in subsequent quarters. Consistent with hypothesis, counselors increased their efficiency in providing feedback. Across 12-months, mean time counselors needed to review participant self-monitoring and provide feedback decreased from 53 to 26 minutes. Conclusions: Counselors needed increasingly less time to review online self-monitoring data and provide feedback after the initial nine months of study implementation. Results inform counselor costs for future technology-based behavioral weight loss interventions. For example, regardless of increasing counselor efficiency, 25-30 minutes per feedback message is a high cost for interventions. One possibility for reducing costs would be generating computer-automated feedback. Clinical Trial: NCT02063178