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

Although cardiometabolic diseases are leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States, computerized tools for risk assessment of cardiometabolic disease are rarely integral components of primary care practice. Embedding cardiometabolic disease staging systems (CMDS) into computerized clinical decision support systems (CDSS) may assist with identifying and treating patients at greatest risk for developing cardiometabolic disease.

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Early Results in Infodemiology and Infoveillance

Dental care expenses are reported to present higher financial barriers than any other type of health care service in the United States. Social media platforms such as Twitter have become a source of public health communication and surveillance. Previous studies have demonstrated the usefulness of Twitter in exploring public opinion on aspects of dental care. To date, no studies have leveraged Twitter to examine public sentiments regarding dental care affordability in the United States.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The collaborative care model is a well-established system of behavioral health care within primary care settings. There is potential for mobile health (mHealth) technology to augment collaborative behavioral health care in primary care settings, thereby improving scalability, efficiency, and clinical outcomes.

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Early Results in Infodemiology and Infoveillance

Despite the fact that medication is taken during more than 90% of pregnancies, the fetal risk for most medications is unknown, and the majority of medications have no data regarding safety in pregnancy.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Smoking remains a major public health issue among Chinese immigrants. Smoking cessation programs that focus on this population are scarce and have a limited population-level impact due to their low reach. Mobile messaging interventions have the potential to reach large audiences and expand smokers’ access to smoking cessation treatment.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

In face-to-face therapy for eating disorders, therapeutic alliance (TA) is an important predictor of symptom reduction and treatment completion. To date, however, little is known about TA during web-based cognitive behavioral therapy (web-CBT) and its association with symptom reduction, treatment completion, and the perspectives of patients versus therapists.

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Formative Evaluation of Non-Ehealth Innovations

Although computed tomography (CT) studies on machines with more slices have reported higher positive and negative predictive values, the impact of using low-slice (16-slice) CT machines on downstream testing has not been well studied. In community outpatient settings, low-slice CT machines remain in use, although many hospitals have adopted higher-slice machines.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The United Nations has called for wide-scale community mental health psychoeducation; however, few programs currently exist. Emotional Connecting, Empowering, Revitalizing (eCPR) is a community education and training program developed by individuals with a lived experience of mental health challenges or trauma. It is designed to provide community members with skills and confidence to support someone experiencing mental health challenges.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

There are early indications that lifestyle behaviors, specifically physical activity and sleep, may be associated with the onset and progression of Huntington disease (HD). Wearable activity trackers offer an exciting opportunity to collect long-term activity data to further investigate the role of lifestyle, physical activity, and sleep in disease modification. Given how wearable devices rely on user acceptance and long-term adoption, it is important to understand users’ perspectives on how acceptable any device might be and how users might engage over the longer term.

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Early Results in Infodemiology and Infoveillance

In recent years, social media has become a major channel for health-related information in Saudi Arabia. Prior health informatics studies have suggested that a large proportion of health-related posts on social media are inaccurate. Given the subject matter and the scale of dissemination of such information, it is important to be able to automatically discriminate between accurate and inaccurate health-related posts in Arabic.

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Pilot studies (ehealth)

Structural and cultural barriers limit Indian women’s access to adequate postnatal care and support despite their importance for maternal and neonatal health. Targeted postnatal education and support through a mobile health intervention may improve postnatal recovery, neonatal care practices, nutritional status, knowledge and care seeking, and mental health.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Prevention of falls among older adults has boosted the development of technological solutions, requiring testing in clinical contexts and robust studies that need prior validation of procedures and data collection tools.

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Preprints Open for Peer-Review

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Open Peer Review Period:

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