JMIR Formative Research

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

Editor-in-Chief:

Amaryllis Mavragani, Scientific Editor (Acting)


Impact Factor 2023

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 is indexed in PubMed, PubMed CentralDOAJ, Scopus, and the Emerging Sources Citation Index (Clarivate).

Recent Articles

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Pilot studies (ehealth)

Digital media has made screen time more available across multiple contexts, but our understanding of the ways children and families use digital media has lagged behind the rapid adoption of this technology.

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Viewpoint

Multi-cohort projects in medicine provide an opportunity to investigate scientific questions beyond the boundaries of a single institution and endeavor to increase the sample size for obtaining more reliable results. However, the complications of these kinds of collaborations arise during management, with many administrative hurdles. Hands-on approaches and lessons learned from previous collaborations provide solutions for optimized collaboration models. Here, we use our experience in running PGX-link, a Swiss multi-cohort project, to show the strategy we used to tackle different challenges from project setup to obtaining the relevant permits, including ethics approval. We set PGX-link in an international context because our struggles were similar to those encountered during the SYNCHROS (SYNergies for Cohorts in Health: integrating the ROle of all Stakeholders) project. We provide ad hoc solutions for cohorts, general project management strategies, and suggestions for unified protocols between cohorts that would ease current management hurdles. Project managers are not necessarily familiar with medical projects, and even if they are, they are not aware of the intricacies behind decision-making and consequently, of the time needed to set up multi-cohort collaborations. This paper is meant to be a brief overview of what we experienced with our multi-cohort project and provides the necessary practices for future managers.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Abnormal prolongation or shortening of the QT interval is associated with increased risk for ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. For continuous monitoring, widespread use, and prevention of cardiac events, advanced wearable technologies are emerging as promising surrogates for conventional 12‑lead electrocardiogram (ECG) QT interval assessment. Previous studies have shown a good agreement between QT and corrected QT (QTc) intervals measured on a smartwatch ECG and a 12-lead ECG, but the clinical accuracy of computerized algorithms for QT and QTc interval measurement from smartwatch ECGs is unclear.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Patient awareness of chronic kidney disease (CKD) is low in part due to suboptimal testing for CKD among those at risk and lack of discussions about kidney disease between patients and clinicians. To bridge these gaps, the National Kidney Foundation developed the Kidney Score Platform, which is a web-based series of tools that includes resources for health care professionals as well as an interactive, dynamic patient-facing component that includes a brief questionnaire about risk factors for kidney disease, individualized assessment of risk for developing CKD, and self-management tools to manage one’s kidney disease.

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Early Results in Infodemiology and Infoveillance

People’s health-related knowledge influences health outcomes, as this knowledge may influence whether individuals follow advice from their doctors or public health agencies. Yet, little attention has been paid to where people obtain health information and how these information sources relate to the quality of knowledge.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The number of adults entering higher-risk age groups for receiving a cancer diagnosis is rising, with predicted numbers of cancer cases expected to increase by nearly 50% by 2050. Living with cancer puts exceptional burdens on individuals and families during treatment and survivorship, including how they navigate their relationships with one another. One role that a member of a support network may enact is that of a surrogate seeker, who seeks information in an informal capacity on behalf of others. Individuals with cancer and surrogate seekers often use the internet to learn about cancer, but differences in their skills and strategies have received little empirical attention.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

There are a myriad of language cues that indicate depression in written texts, and natural language processing (NLP) researchers have proven the ability of machine learning and deep learning approaches to detect these cues. However, to date, these approaches bridging NLP and the domain of mental health for Bengali literature are not comprehensive. The Bengali-speaking population can express emotions in their native language in greater detail.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The COVID-19 pandemic represents the most unprecedented global challenge in recent times. As the global community attempts to manage the pandemic in the long term, it is pivotal to understand what factors drive prevalence rates and to predict the future trajectory of the virus.

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Early Results from COVID-19 Studies

Despite high rates of novel COVID-19, acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination is low among Black adults. In response, we developed a digital health intervention (Tough Talks-COVID) that includes digital stories created in a workshop we held with young Black adults.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Diabetes is associated with significant long-term costs for both patients and health systems. Regular primary care visits aligned with American Diabetes Association guidelines could help mitigate those costs while generating near-term revenue for health systems. Digital interventions prompting primary care visits among unengaged patients could provide significant economic value back to the health system as well as individual patients, but only few economic models have been put forth to understand this value.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Strong participant recruitment practices are critical to public health research but are difficult to achieve. Traditional recruitment practices are often time consuming, costly, and fail to adequately target difficult-to-reach populations. Social media platforms such as Facebook are well-positioned to address this area of need, enabling researchers to leverage existing social networks and deliver targeted information. The MAGENTA (Making Genetic Testing Accessible) study aimed to improve the availability of genetic testing for hereditary cancer susceptibility in at-risk individuals through the use of a web-based communication system along with social media advertisements to improve reach.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

As the number of mental health apps has grown, increasing efforts have been focused on establishing quality tailored reviews. These reviews prioritize clinician and academic views rather than the views of those who use them, particularly those with lived experiences of mental health problems. Given that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased reliance on web-based and mobile mental health support, understanding the views of those with mental health conditions is of increasing importance.

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Preprints Open for Peer-Review

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Open Peer Review Period:

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Open Peer Review Period:

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