JMIR Formative Research

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

Editor-in-Chief:

Amaryllis Mavragani, PhDc, Scientific Editor at JMIR Publications, Canada


Impact Factor 2.2

JMIR Formative Research (JFR, ISSN 2561-326X, Impact Factor 2.2publishes 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 CentralDOAJ, Scopus, Sherpa/Romeo, EBSCO/EBSCO Essentials, and the Emerging Sources Citation Index (Clarivate).

Recent Articles

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Pilot studies (ehealth)

Motor impairments not only lead to a significant reduction in patient activity levels but also trigger a further deterioration in motor function due to deconditioning, which is an issue that is particularly pronounced during hospitalization. This deconditioning can be countered by sustaining appropriate activity levels. Activities that occur outside of scheduled programs, often overlooked, are critical in this context. Wearable technology, such as smart clothing, provides a means to monitor these activities.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Approximately 1 in 5 adolescents in the United States has prediabetes, and racially and ethnically minoritized youths are disproportionately impacted. Unfortunately, there are few effective youth diabetes prevention programs, and in-person interventions are challenging because of barriers to access and engagement.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The potential of health apps for health promotion and disease prevention is widely recognized. However, uptake is limited due to barriers individuals face in finding suitable and trustworthy apps, such as the overwhelming amount of available health apps. Therefore, the health app platform “FitKnip” was developed, enabling individuals to purchase preselected, trustworthy health apps with a budget of 100 euros (a currency exchange rate of EUR €1=US $1.0831 is applicable). The platform aimed to empower individuals to improve their health and vitality, ultimately supporting a more healthy society.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

In recent years, with the widespread use of the internet, the influence of electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) has been increasingly recognized, particularly the significance of negative eWOM, which has surpassed positive eWOM in importance. Such reviews play a pivotal role in research related to service industry management, particularly in intangible service sectors such as hospitals, where they have become a reference point for improving service quality.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Hypertension is a prevalent cardiovascular risk factor disproportionately affecting Black Americans, who also experience a higher incidence of Alzheimer disease and Alzheimer disease–related dementias. Monitoring blood pressure (BP) and cognition may be important strategies in reducing these disparities.

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Early Results from COVID-19 Studies

The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst for the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in inpatient and outpatient health care settings. Digital tools were used to connect patients, families, and providers amid visitor restrictions, while web-based platforms were used to continue care amid COVID-19 lockdowns. What we have yet to learn is the experiences of health care providers (HCPs) regarding the use of ICT that supported changes to clinical care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Early Results in Infodemiology and Infoveillance

Nonmedical use of prescription drugs can cause overdose; this represents a serious public health crisis globally. In this digital era, social networking services serve as viable platforms for illegal acquisition of excessive amounts of medications, including prescription medications. In Japan, such illegal drug transactions have been conducted through popular flea market applications, social media, and auction websites, with most of the trades being over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Recently, an emerging unique black market, where individuals trade prescription medications—predominantly nervous system drugs—using a specific keyword (“Okusuri Mogu Mogu”), has emerged on X (formerly Twitter). Hence, these dynamic methods of illicit trading should routinely be monitored to encourage the appropriate use of medications.

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Development and Evaluation of Research Methods, Instruments and Tools

Sequential mixed-mode surveys using both web-based surveys and telephone interviews are increasingly being used in observational studies and have been shown to have many benefits; however, the application of this survey design has not been evaluated in the context of epidemiological case-control studies.

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Development and Evaluation of Research Methods, Instruments and Tools

There is evidence that social interaction has an inverse association with the development of neurodegenerative diseases. PREDICT-Parkinson Disease (PREDICT-PD) is an online UK cohort study that stratifies participants for risk of future Parkinson disease (PD).

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Development and Evaluation of Research Methods, Instruments and Tools

Developing new clinical measures for degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) is an AO Spine RECODE-DCM Research, an international and multi-stakeholder partnership, priority. Difficulties in detecting DCM and its changes cause diagnostic and treatment delays in clinical settings and heightened costs in clinical trials due to elevated recruitment targets. Digital outcome measures can tackle these challenges due to their ability to measure disease remotely, repeatedly, and more economically.

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Pilot studies (ehealth)

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United States, affecting a significant proportion of adults. Digital health lifestyle change programs have emerged as a promising method of CVD prevention, offering benefits such as on-demand support, lower cost, and increased scalability. Prior research has shown the effectiveness of digital health interventions in reducing negative CVD outcomes. This pilot study focuses on the Lark Heart Health program, a fully digital artificial intelligence (AI)–powered smartphone app, providing synchronous CVD risk counseling, educational content, and personalized coaching.

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Preprints Open for Peer-Review

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