JMIR Formative Research

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

Editor-in-Chief:

Gunther Eysenbach, MD, MPH, FACMI


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

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Increased digitization of health care might challenge some of the trust functions that are established in a traditional health care system. We have, with the concept of VerifyMed, developed a decentralized service for work history and competence verification, as a means to increase trust in the virtual interaction between a patient and a caregiver, mitigate administrative burden, and provide patient-reported outcomes seamlessly for health professionals.

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Early Results from COVID-19 Studies

The importance of health professionals has been recognized in COVID-19 pandemic–affected countries, especially in those such as Brazil, which is one of the top 3 countries that have been affected in the world. However, the workers’ perception of the stress and the changes that the pandemic has caused in their lives vary according to the conditions offered by these affected countries, including salaries, individual protection equipment, and psychological support.

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Early Results from COVID-19 Studies

The contact tracing and subsequent quarantining of health care workers (HCWs) are essential to minimizing the further transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection and mitigating the shortage of HCWs during the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Rural residents are at high risk for obesity; however, little resources exist to address this disproportional burden of disease. Primary care may provide an opportunity to connect primary care patients with overweight and obesity to effective weight management programming.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Health care provider and trainee burnout results in substantial national and institutional costs and profound social effects. Identifying effective solutions and interventions to cultivate resilience among health care trainees is critical. Although less is known about the mental health needs of physician assistants (PAs) or PA students, accumulating research indicates that they experience similarly alarming rates of burnout, depression, and emotional exhaustion. Mobile app–delivered mindfulness meditation may be an effective part of salubrious programming to bolster long-term resilience and health among PA students.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The traditional informed consent (IC) process rarely emphasizes research participants’ comprehension of medical information, leaving them vulnerable to unknown risks and consequences associated with procedures or studies.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Undergraduate studies are challenging, and mental health issues can frequently occur in undergraduate students, straining campus resources that are already in demand for somatic problems. Cost-effective measures with ubiquitous devices, such as smartphones, offer the potential to deliver targeted interventions to monitor and affect lifestyle, which may result in improvements to student mental health. However, the avenues by which this can be done are not particularly well understood, especially in the Canadian context.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Lactose malabsorption is a common condition that affects a broad segment of the population. Clinical diagnosis based on symptom recall can be unreliable and conventional testing can be inconvenient, requiring expensive laboratory-based equipment and conduction of the testing in a clinical setting.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The transition from high school to college can exacerbate mental health problems in young adults yet barriers prevent seamless mental health care. Existing digital support tools show promise but are not yet designed to optimize engagement or implementation.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Need for cognition (NFC) is among the most studied personality traits in psychology. Despite its apparent relevance for engaging with technology and the use of information, it has not been studied in the context of self-monitoring systems and wearables for health. This study is the first to explore the relationship between NFC and commercial self-monitoring systems among healthy users.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Traditional in-person psychotherapies are incapable of addressing global mental health needs. Use of computer-based interventions is one promising solution for closing the gap between the amount of global mental health treatment needed and received.

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Preprints Open for Peer-Review

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