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)


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, PubMed Central, DOAJ, and Scopus.

Recent Articles

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Digital technologies and mobile interventions are possible tools for prevention initiatives to target the substantial social and economic impacts that anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders have on young people.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Unhealthy alcohol use is associated with increased morbidity and mortality among persons with HIV and tuberculosis (TB). Computer-based interventions (CBIs) can reduce unhealthy alcohol use, are scalable, and may improve outcomes among patients with HIV or TB.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Consumer-based activity trackers are increasingly used in research, as they have the potential to promote increased physical activity and can be used for estimating physical activity among participants. However, the accuracy of newer consumer-based devices is mostly unknown, and validation studies are needed.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Digitalization affects almost every aspect of modern daily life, including a growing number of health care services along with telemedicine applications. Fifth-generation (5G) mobile communication technology has the potential to meet the requirements for this digitalized future with high bandwidths (10 GB/s), low latency (<1 ms), and high quality of service, enabling wireless real-time data transmission in telemedical emergency health care applications.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The successful rehabilitation of musculoskeletal pain requires more than medical input alone. Conservative treatment, including physiotherapy and exercise therapy, can be an effective way of decreasing pain associated with musculoskeletal pain. However, face-to-face appointments are currently not feasible. New mobile technologies, such as mobile health technologies in the form of an app for smartphones, can be a solution to this problem. In many cases, these apps are not backed by scientific literature. Therefore, it is important that they are reviewed and quality assessed.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Video consultation (VC) is increasingly seen as a cost-effective way of providing outpatient care in the face of dwindling resources and growing demand for health care worldwide. Therefore, the sustainable implementation of VC is a phenomenon of interest to medical practitioners, researchers, and citizens alike. Studies are often criticized for not being sufficiently robust because the research settings are mostly small-scale pilot projects and are unable to reflect long-term implementation. The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled clinicians worldwide to conduct remote consultation, creating a favorable context to study large-scale remote consultation implementation.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Recruiting young people for health and intervention studies by traditional methods has become increasingly challenging. The widespread access to the internet may offer new strategies for online recruitment.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Enrollment in pregnancy registries is challenging despite substantial awareness-raising activities, generally resulting in low recruitment owing to limited safety data. Understanding patient and physician awareness of and attitudes toward pregnancy registries is needed to facilitate enrollment. Crowdsourcing, in which services, ideas, or content are obtained by soliciting contributions from a large group of people using web-based platforms, has shown promise for improving patient engagement and obtaining patient insights.

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Pilot studies (ehealth)

Middle-aged adults (40-65 years) report higher stress levels than most other age groups. There is a need to determine the feasibility of using a meditation app to reduce stress and improve stress-related outcomes in middle-aged adults with a focus on men, as previous meditation app–based studies have reported a low proportion of or even no male participants.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Digital applications are commonly used to support mental health and well-being. However, successfully retaining and engaging users to complete digital interventions is challenging, and comorbidities such as chronic pain further reduce user engagement. Digital conversational agents (CAs) may improve user engagement by applying engagement principles that have been implemented within in-person care settings.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Indoor air quality is an important environmental factor that triggers and exacerbates asthma, the most common chronic disease in children. A mobile app to monitor indoor air quality could help occupants keep their indoor air quality clean. However, no app is available that allows children to monitor and improve their indoor air quality.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

There is increasing interest in the potential uses of mobile health (mHealth) technologies, such as wearable biosensors, as supplements for the care of people with neurological conditions. However, adherence is low, especially over long periods. If people are to benefit from these resources, we need a better long-term understanding of what influences patient engagement. Previous research suggests that engagement is moderated by several barriers and facilitators, but their relative importance is unknown.

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Preprints Open for Peer-Review

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