JMIR Formative Research

Editor-in-Chief:

Gunther Eysenbach, MD, MPH, FACMI


JMIR Formative Research (JFR) publishes peer-reviewed, openly accessible research 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, JFR 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 Central, and Scopus.

Recent Articles

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Contact notification is a method used to control the spread of infectious disease. In this process, a patient who tests positive for an infectious disease and public health officials work to identify the patient’s close contacts, notify them of their risk of possible exposure to the disease, and provide resources to facilitate the decreased spreading of disease. Contact notification can be done physically in person, via phone call, or digitally through the use of media such as SMS text messages and email. When alerts are made through the latter, it is called digital contact notification.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The Patient-Centered Team (PACT) focuses on the transitional phase between hospital and primary care for older patients in Northern Norway with complex and long-term needs. PACT emphasizes a person-centered care approach whereby the sharing of power and the patient’s response to “What matters to you?” drive care decisions. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, videoconferencing was the only option for assessing, planning, coordinating, and performing treatment and care.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Novel wearable biosensors, ubiquitous smartphone ownership, and telemedicine are converging to enable new paradigms of clinical research. A new generation of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices provides access to clinical-grade measurement of interstitial glucose levels. Adoption of these sensors has become widespread for the management of type 1 diabetes and is accelerating in type 2 diabetes. In parallel, individuals are adopting health-related smartphone-based apps to monitor and manage care.

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Formative Evaluation of Non-Ehealth Innovations

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a rare, life-shortening, multiorgan disease, the treatment of which has seen significant increases in the life expectancy of those with CF. Many advances in CF care are thanks to the dedicated and active participation of people with CF as research participants. Unfortunately, most CF research teams still do not fully partner with people with CF or their caregivers.

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Reviews on Usage or other Formative Evaluation Metrics

The development, review, and approval process of therapeutic biological products in the United States presents two primary challenges: time and cost. Advancing a biotherapeutic from concept to market may take an average of 12 years, with costs exceeding US $1 billion, and the product may still fail the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process. Despite the FDA’s practices to expedite the approval of new therapies, seeking FDA approval remains a long, costly, and risky process.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The Interpersonal Theory of Suicide posits that there are three key elements of suicidal behavior: perceived burdensomeness, thwarted belongingness, and the acquired capability for suicide. The digital campaign Better Off With You was developed to directly challenge the idea of perceived burdensomeness among people who are contemplating suicide in 2 communities within Australia.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Cannabis legalization has raised concern about an increased risk of cannabis-impaired driving, particularly among youth. Youth advocates and policy makers require cost-effective tools to target educational resources to promote responsible cannabis use.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Interventions to involve parents in decisions regarding children’s and young people’s mental health are associated with positive outcomes. However, appropriately planning effectiveness studies is critical to ensure that meaningful evidence is collected. It is important to conduct pilot studies to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention itself and the feasibility of the protocol to test effectiveness.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Middle-aged and older adults with mental health conditions have a high likelihood of experiencing comorbid physical health conditions, premature nursing home admissions, and early death compared with the general population of adults aged 50 years or above. An emerging workforce of peer support specialists aged 50 years or above or “older adult peer support specialists” is increasingly using technology to deliver peer support services to address both the mental health and physical health needs of middle-aged and older adults with a diagnosis of a serious mental illness.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Adherence to medication regimens and patient rest are two important factors in the well-being of patients with serious mental illness. Both of these behaviors are traditionally difficult to record objectively in unsupervised populations.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

The web-based EatWellQ8 food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) was developed as a dietary assessment tool for healthy adults in Kuwait. Validation against reliable instruments and assessment of its reproducibility are required to ensure the accuracy of the EatWellQ8 FFQ in computing nutrient intake.

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Formative Evaluation of Digital Health Interventions

Physical activity has a strong positive impact on both physical and mental health, and public health interventions often encourage walking as a means to promote physical activity. Social connectivity, such as that among spouses, families, friends, and colleagues, highly influences physical activity. Although technology-based interventions have some influence on human behavior, they have not been fully implemented and evaluated for their influence on walking through social connectivity.

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Preprints Open for Peer-Review

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Open Peer Review Period:

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