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, and Scopus, and the Emerging Sources Citation Index (Clarivate).

Recent Articles

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP) is an empirically supported psychotherapeutic treatment developed specifically for persistent depressive disorder. However, given the high rates of nonresponse and relapse, there is a need for optimization. Studies suggest that outcomes can be improved by increasing the treatment dose via, for example, the continuous web-based application of therapy strategies between sessions. The strong emphasis in CBASP on the therapeutic relationship, combined with limited therapeutic availabilities, encourages the addition of web-based interventions to face-to-face therapy in terms of blended therapy.

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Pilot studies (non-ehealth)

Visualizations of illness and treatment processes are promising interventions for changing unhelpful perceptions and improving health outcomes. However, these are yet to be tested in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

After a serious knee injury, up to half of athletes do not return to competitive sport, despite recovering sufficient physical function. Athletes often desire psychological support for the return to sport, but rehabilitation clinicians feel ill-equipped to deliver adequate support.

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Pilot studies (ehealth)

Although lifestyle interventions are useful in the prevention and management of diabetes, they can be expensive and time-consuming. There is some evidence on the effectiveness of automated mobile technology for health self-monitoring; however, few studies have used such devices in the occupational health field.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Implementation of clinical guidelines into routine practice remains highly variable. Strategies to increase guideline uptake include developing digital tools and mobile apps for use in clinical practice. The National Heart Foundation of Australia in collaboration with the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand published 3 key cardiac clinical guidelines, including the Australian clinical guidelines for the (1) prevention and detection of atrial fibrillation, (2) detection and management of heart failure, and (3) management of acute coronary syndromes. To improve access and uptake for health care providers, we developed the Smart Heart Guideline App.

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Development and Evaluation of Research Methods, Instruments and Tools

Neck surface accelerometer (NSA) wearable devices have been developed for voice and upper airway health monitoring. As opposed to acoustic sounds, NSA senses mechanical vibrations propagated from the vocal tract to neck skin, which are indicative of a person’s voice and airway conditions. NSA signals do not carry identifiable speech information and a speaker’s privacy is thus protected, which is important and necessary for continuous wearable monitoring. Our device was already tested for its durable endurance and signal processing algorithms in controlled laboratory conditions.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Improving preconception health can benefit all women, their children, and their families regardless of their individual pregnancy intentions. Rapidly increasing access to information technology and online engagement have created opportunities to use digital health resources to engage with preconception women regarding lifestyle behaviors.

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Early Results from COVID-19 Studies

In-person directly observed therapy (DOT) is standard of care for tuberculosis (TB) treatment adherence monitoring in the US, with increasing use of video-DOT (vDOT). In Minneapolis, vDOT became available in 2019.

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Early Results from COVID-19 Studies

Sleep disturbance is a transdiagnostic risk factor that is so prevalent among young adults that it is considered a public health epidemic, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sleep may contribute to mental health via affect dynamics. Prior literature on the contribution of sleep to affect is largely based on correlational studies or experiments that do not generalize to the daily lives of young adults. Furthermore, the literature examining the associations between sleep variability and affect dynamics remains scant.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The most common route to a diagnosis of cancer is through primary care. Delays in diagnosing cancer occur when an opportunity to make a timely diagnosis is missed and is evidenced by patients visiting the general practitioner (GP) on multiple occasions before referral to a specialist. Tools that minimize prolonged diagnostic intervals and reduce missed opportunities to investigate patients for cancer are therefore a priority.

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Early Results from COVID-19 Studies

The Latinx population in the United States has experienced high rates of infection, hospitalization, and death since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is little data on the knowledge, attitude, and practices (KAP) specifically in Latinx communities in the United States.

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Early Results in Infodemiology and Infoveillance

Mass asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 was piloted for the first time in the United Kingdom in Liverpool in November 2020. There is limited evidence on uptake of mass testing, and previously where surge testing has been deployed, uptake has been low.

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Preprints Open for Peer-Review

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