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

The link between chronic diseases and the Big 6 lifestyle risk behaviors (ie, poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol use, sedentary recreational screen time, and poor sleep) is well established. It is critical to target these lifestyle risk behaviors, as they often co-occur and emerge in adolescence. Smartphones have become an integral part of everyday life, and many adolescents already use mobile apps to monitor their lifestyle behaviors and improve their health. Smartphones may be a valuable platform for engaging adolescents with interventions to prevent key chronic disease risk behaviors.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

New opportunities to create and evaluate population-based selective prevention programs for suicidal behavior are emerging in health care settings. Standard depression severity measures recorded in electronic medical records (EMRs) can be used to identify patients at risk for suicide and suicide attempt, and promising interventions for reducing the risk of suicide attempt in at-risk populations can be adapted for web-based delivery in health care.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Tinnitus Talk is a nonprofit online self-help forum. Asking inactive users about their reasons for discontinued usage of health-related online platforms such as Tinnitus Talk is important for quality assurance.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Despite the rapid adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) resulting from the reimbursement program of the US government, EHR adoption in behavioral hospitals is still slow, and there remains a lack of evidence regarding barriers and facilitators to the implementation of mental health care EHRs.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a major risk factor for stroke. The current opportunistic screening procedure consists of pulse palpation and an electrocardiogram when an irregular rhythm is found. Smartphone apps that measure heart rhythm could be useful in increasing the detection of AF in a primary care setting.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Social media platforms have experienced unprecedented levels of growth and usage over the past decade, with Facebook hosting 2.7 billion active users worldwide, including over 200 million users in the United States. Facebook users have been underutilized and understudied by the academic community as a resource for participant recruitment.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The use of ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to study youth experiencing homelessness (YEH) behaviors is an emerging area of research. Despite high rates of participation and potential clinical utility, few studies have investigated the acceptability and recommendations for EMA from the YEH perspective.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The persistence of cannabis use disorder (CUD) in young adults with first-episode psychosis (FEP) is associated with poor clinical and functional outcomes. Face-to-face psychological interventions are effective in treating CUD. However, their use in early intervention services (EISs) for psychosis is inconsistent because of barriers, including high workload and heterogeneity in training of clinicians and lack of motivation for treatment among patients. Tailoring new technology-based psychological interventions (TBPIs) to overcome these barriers is necessary to ensure their optimal acceptability.

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Early Results from COVID-19 Studies

During the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous countries, including China and France, have implemented lockdown measures that have been effective in controlling the epidemic. However, little is known about the impact of these measures on the population as expressed on social media from different cultural contexts.

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Early Results from COVID-19 Studies

The COVID-19 health crisis has disproportionately impacted populations who have been historically marginalized in health care and public health, including low-income and racial and ethnic minority groups. Members of marginalized communities experience undue barriers to accessing health care through virtual care technologies, which have become the primary mode of ambulatory health care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic. Insights generated during the COVID-19 pandemic can inform strategies to promote health equity in virtual care now and in the future.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Neurocognitive disorders are often accompanied by behavioral symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and/or apathy. These symptoms can occur very early in the disease progression and are often difficult to detect and quantify in nonspecialized clinical settings.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The impact of COVID-19 has been felt worldwide, yet we are still unsure about its full impact. One of the gaps in our current knowledge relates to the long-term mental and physical impact of the infection on affected individuals. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the Netherlands at the end of February 2020, resulting in over 900,000 people testing positive for the virus, over 24,000 hospitalizations, and over 13,000 deaths by the end of January 2021. Although many patients recover from the acute phase of the disease, experience with other virus outbreaks has raised concerns regarding possible late sequelae of the infection.

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Preprints Open for Peer-Review

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