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Journal of Medical Internet Research

The leading peer-reviewed journal for digital medicine, and health & healthcare in the Internet age


Journal Description

The Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), now in its 20th year, is the pioneer open access eHealth journal and is the flagship journal of JMIR Publications. It is the leading digital health journal globally in terms of quality/visibility (Impact Factor 2016: 5.175, ranked #1 out of 22 journals) and in terms of size (number of papers published). The journal focuses on emerging technologies, medical devices, apps, engineering, and informatics applications for patient education, prevention, population health and clinical care. As leading high-impact journal in its' disciplines (health informatics and health services research), it is selective, but it is now complemented by almost 30 specialty JMIR sister journals, which have a broader scope. Peer-review reports are portable across JMIR journals and papers can be transferred, so authors save time by not having to resubmit a paper to different journals. 

As open access journal, we are read by clinicians, allied health professionals, informal caregivers, and patients alike, and have (as all JMIR journals) a focus on readable and applied science reporting the design and evaluation of health innovations and emerging technologies. We publish original research, viewpoints, and reviews (both literature reviews and medical device/technology/app reviews).

We are also a leader in participatory and open science approaches, and offer the option to publish new submissions immediately as preprints, which receive DOIs for immediate citation (eg, in grant proposals), and for open peer-review purposes. We also invite patients to participate (eg, as peer-reviewers) and have patient representatives on editorial boards.

Be a widely cited leader in the digitial health revolution and submit your paper today!


Recent Articles:

  • Source: Shutterstock; Copyright: Toa55; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Computer-Based Driving in Dementia Decision Tool With Mail Support: Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial


    Background: Physicians often find significant challenges in assessing automobile driving in persons with mild cognitive impairment and mild dementia and deciding when to report to transportation administrators. Care must be taken to balance the safety of patients and other road users with potential negative effects of issuing such reports. Objective: The aim of this study was to assess whether a computer-based Driving in Dementia Decision Tool (DD-DT) increased appropriate reporting of patients with mild dementia or mild cognitive impairment to transportation administrators. Methods: The study used a parallel-group cluster nonblinded randomized controlled trial design to test a multifaceted knowledge translation intervention. The intervention included a computer-based decision support system activated by the physician-user, which provides a recommendation about whether to report patients with mild dementia or mild cognitive impairment to transportation administrators, based on an algorithm derived from earlier work. The intervention also included a mailed educational package and Web-based specialized reporting forms. Specialists and family physicians with expertise in dementia or care of the elderly were stratified by sex and randomized to either use the DD-DT or a control version of the tool that required identical data input as the intervention group, but instead generated a generic reminder about the reporting legislation in Ontario, Canada. The trial ran from September 9, 2014 to January 29, 2016, and the primary outcome was the number of reports made to the transportation administrators concordant with the algorithm. Results: A total of 69 participating physicians were randomized, and 36 of these used the DD-DT; 20 of the 35 randomized to the intervention group used DD-DT with 114 patients, and 16 of the 34 randomized to the control group used it with 103 patients. The proportion of all assessed patients reported to the transportation administrators concordant with recommendation did not differ between the intervention and the control groups (50% vs 49%; Z=−0.19, P=.85). Two variables predicted algorithm-based reporting—caregiver concern (odds ratio [OR]=5.8, 95% CI 2.5-13.6, P<.001) and abnormal clock drawing (OR 6.1, 95% CI 3.1-11.8, P<.001). Conclusions: On the basis of this quantitative analysis, in-office abnormal clock drawing and expressions of concern about driving from caregivers substantially influenced physicians to report patients with mild dementia or mild cognitive impairment to transportation administrators, but the DD-DT tool itself did not increase such reports among these expert physicians. Trial Registration: NCT02036099; (Archived by WebCite at

  • Source: Pxhere; Copyright: Pxhere; URL:; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    The Health and Retirement Study: Analysis of Associations Between Use of the Internet for Health Information and Use of Health Services at Multiple Time Points


    Background: The use of the internet for health information among older people is receiving increasing attention, but how it is associated with chronic health conditions and health service use at concurrent and subsequent time points using nationally representative data is less known. Objective: This study aimed to determine whether the use of the internet for health information is associated with health service utilization and whether the association is affected by specific health conditions. Methods: The study used data collected in a technology module from a nationally representative sample of community-dwelling older Americans aged 52 years and above from the 2012 Health and Retirement Study (HRS; N=991). Negative binomial regressions were used to examine the association between use of Web-based health information and the reported health service uses in 2012 and 2014. Analyses included additional covariates adjusting for predisposing, enabling, and need factors. Interactions between the use of the internet for health information and chronic health conditions were also tested. Results: A total of 48.0% (476/991) of Americans aged 52 years and above reported using Web-based health information. The use of Web-based health information was positively associated with the concurrent reports of doctor visits, but not over 2 years. However, an interaction of using Web-based health information with diabetes showed that users had significantly fewer doctor visits compared with nonusers with diabetes at both times. Conclusions: The use of the internet for health information was associated with higher health service use at the concurrent time, but not at the subsequent time. The interaction between the use of the internet for health information and diabetes was significant at both time points, which suggests that health-related internet use may be associated with fewer doctor visits for certain chronic health conditions. Results provide some insight into how Web-based health information may provide an alternative health care resource for managing chronic conditions.

  • Physician and patient looking at an electronic health record. Source: Image created by the OpenNotes Communications Team; Copyright: The Authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    The Importance of Visit Notes on Patient Portals for Engaging Less Educated or Nonwhite Patients: Survey Study


    Background: OpenNotes, a national initiative to share clinicians’ visit notes with patients, can improve patient engagement, but effects on vulnerable populations are not known very well. Objective: Our aim is to examine the importance of visit notes to nonwhite and less educated patients. Methods: Patients at an urban academic medical center with an active patient portal account and ≥1 available ambulatory visit note over the prior year were surveyed during June 2016 until September 2016. The survey was designed with patients and families and assessed importance of reading notes (scale 0-10) for (1) understanding health conditions, (2) feeling informed about care, (3) understanding the provider’s thought process, (4) remembering the plan of care, and (5) making decisions about care. We compared the proportion of patients reporting 9-10 (extremely important) for each item stratified by education level, race/ethnicity, and self-reported health. Principal component analysis and correlation measures supported a summary score for the 5 items (Cronbach alpha=.93). We examined factors associated with rating notes as extremely important to engage in care using logistic regression. Results: Of 24,722 patients, 6913 (27.96%) completed the survey. The majority (6736/6913, 97.44%) read at least one note. Among note readers, 74.0% (727/982) of patients with ≤high school education, 70.7% (130/184) of black patients, and 69.9% (153/219) of Hispanic/Latino patients reported that notes are extremely important to feel informed about their care. The majority of less educated and nonwhite patients reported notes as extremely important to remember the care plan (62.4%, 613/982 ≤high school education; 62.0%, 114/184 black patients; and 61.6%, 135/219 Hispanic/Latino patients) and to make care decisions (62.3%, 612/982; 59.8%, 110/184; and 58.5%, 128/219, respectively, and P<.003 for all comparisons to more educated and white patients, respectively). Among patients with the poorest self-reported health, 65.9% (499/757) found notes extremely important to be informed and to understand the provider. On multivariable modeling, less educated patients were nearly three times as likely to report notes were extremely important to engage in care compared with the most educated patients (odds ratio [OR] 2.9, 95% CI 2.4-3.3). Nonwhite patients were twice as likely to report the same compared with white patients (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.5-2.7 [black] and OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.6-2.9 [Hispanic/Latino and Asian], P<.001 for each comparison). Healthier patients, women, older patients, and those who read more notes were more likely to find notes extremely important to engage in care. Conclusions: Less educated and nonwhite patients using the portal each assigned higher importance to reading notes for several health behaviors than highly educated and white patients, and may find transparent notes especially valuable for understanding their health and engaging in their care. Facilitating access to notes may improve engagement in health care for some vulnerable populations who have historically been more challenging to reach.

  • Source: Flickr; Copyright: Raelene Gutierrez; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    “It’s Totally Okay to Be Sad, but Never Lose Hope”: Content Analysis of Infertility-Related Videos on YouTube in Relation to Viewer Preferences


    Background: Infertility patients frequently use the internet to find fertility-related information and support from people in similar circumstances. YouTube is increasingly used as a source of health-related information and may influence health decision making. There have been no studies examining the content of infertility-related videos on YouTube. Objective: The purpose of this study was to (1) describe the content of highly viewed videos on YouTube related to infertility and (2) identify video characteristics that relate to viewer preference. Methods: Using the search term “infertility,” the 80 top-viewed YouTube videos and their viewing statistics (eg, views, likes, and comments) were collected. Videos that were non-English, unrelated to infertility, or had age restrictions were excluded. Content analysis was used to examine videos, employing a coding rubric that measured the presence or absence of video codes related to purpose, tone, and demographic and fertility characteristics (eg, sex, parity, stage of fertility treatment). Results: A total of 59 videos, with a median of 156,103 views, met the inclusion criteria and were categorized into 35 personal videos (35/59, 59%) and 24 informational-educational videos (24/59, 41%). Personal videos did not differ significantly from informational-educational videos on number of views, dislikes, subscriptions driven, or shares. However, personal videos had significantly more likes (P<.001) and comments (P<.001) than informational-educational videos. The purposes of the videos were treatment outcomes (33/59, 56%), sharing information (30/59, 51%), emotional aspects of infertility (20/59, 34%), and advice to others (6/59, 10%). The tones of the videos were positive (26/59, 44%), neutral (25/59, 42%), and mixed (8/59, 14%); there were no videos with negative tone. No videos contained only male posters. Videos with a positive tone did not differ from neutral videos in number of views, dislikes, subscriptions driven, or shares; however, positive videos had significantly more likes (P<.001) and comments (P<.001) than neutral videos. A majority (21/35, 60%) of posters of personal videos shared a pregnancy announcement. Conclusions: YouTube is a source of both technical and personal experience-based information about infertility. However, videos that include personal experiences may elicit greater viewer engagement. Positive videos and stories of treatment success may provide hope to viewers but could also create and perpetuate unrealistic expectations about the success rates of fertility treatment.

  • Source: Unsplash; Copyright: James Sutton; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Internet and Social Media Access Among Youth Experiencing Homelessness: Mixed-Methods Study


    Background: Youth experiencing homelessness are at a risk for a variety of adverse outcomes. Given the widespread use of the internet and social media, these new technologies may be used to address their needs and for outreach purposes. However, little is known about how this group uses these resources. Objective: This study investigated how homeless adolescents use these technologies for general and health-related purposes, whether the scope of their use changes with housing status, and their interest in a website dedicated to youth experiencing homelessness. Methods: A convenience sample of youth aged 18 to 21 years was recruited from a youth-specific homeless shelter. All participants completed a 47-item survey, with 10 individuals completing a semistructured interview. Descriptive statistics, exact testing, logistic regression, and generalized estimating equation modeling was performed for quantitative data analysis. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, and NVivo 10 (QSR International) was employed to facilitate double coding and thematic analysis. Results: A total of 87 participants completed the survey with a mean age of 19.4 (SD 1.1) years. While experiencing homelessness, 56% (49/87) accessed the internet at least once a day, with 86% (75/87) accessing once a week. Access to a smartphone was associated with a 3.03 greater odds of accessing the internet and was the most frequently used device (66% of participants, 57/87). While experiencing homelessness, subjects reported a 68% decreased odds in internet access frequency (odds ratio [OR] 0.32, P<.001), 75% decreased odds in spending greater amounts of time on the internet (OR 0.25, P<.001), and an 87% decreased odds of social media use (OR 0.13, P=.01). Ten participants completed the semistructured interview. Several themes were identified, including (1) changes in internet behaviors while experiencing homelessness, (2) health status as a major concern and reason for Internet use, and (3) interest in a website dedicated to youth experiencing homelessness. While experiencing homelessness, participants indicated their behaviors were more goal-oriented and less focused on leisure or entertainment activities. Conclusions: While homeless youth experience changes in the frequency, amount of time, and specific uses of the internet and social media, study participants were able to access the internet regularly. The internet was used to search health-related topics. Given the importance of smartphones in accessing the internet, mobile-optimized websites may be an effective method for reaching this group.

  • Interaction with the e-learning program. Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    The Effectiveness of a Computer-Tailored E-Learning Program for Practice Nurses to Improve Their Adherence to Smoking Cessation Counseling Guidelines:...


    Background: Improving practice nurses’ (PN) adherence to smoking cessation counseling guidelines will benefit the quality of smoking cessation care and will potentially lead to higher smoking abstinence rates. However, support programs to aid PNs in improving their guideline uptake and adherence do not exist yet. Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the effects of a novel computer-tailored electronic learning (e-learning) program on PNs’ smoking cessation guideline adherence. Methods: A Web-based randomized controlled trial (RCT) was conducted in which an intervention group (N=147) with full access to the e-learning program for 6 months was compared with a control group (N=122) without access. Data collection was fully automated at baseline and 6-month follow-up via online questionnaires, assessing PNs’ demographics, work-related factors, potential behavioral predictors based on the I-Change model, and guideline adherence. PNs also completed counseling checklists to retrieve self-reported counseling activities for each consultation with a smoker (N=1175). To assess the program’s effectiveness in improving PNs’ guideline adherence (ie, overall adherence and adherence to individual counseling guideline steps), mixed linear and logistic regression analyses were conducted, thus accommodating for the smokers being nested within PNs. Potential effect moderation by work-related factors and behavioral predictors was also examined. Results: After 6 months, 121 PNs in the intervention group (82.3%, 121/147) and 103 in the control group (84.4%, 103/122) completed the follow-up questionnaire. Mixed linear regression analysis revealed that counseling experience moderated the program’s effect on PNs’ overall guideline adherence (beta=.589; 95% CI 0.111-1.068; PHolm-Bonferroni =.048), indicating a positive program effect on adherence for PNs with a more than average level of counseling experience. Mixed logistic regression analyses regarding adherence to individual guideline steps revealed a trend toward moderating effects of baseline levels of behavioral predictors and counseling experience. More specifically, for PNs with less favorable scores on behavioral predictors (eg, low baseline self-efficacy) and high levels of counseling experience, the program significantly increased adherence. Conclusions: Results from our RCT showed that among PNs with more than average counseling experience, the e-learning program resulted in significantly better smoking cessation guideline adherence. Experienced PNs might have been better able to translate the content of our e-learning program into practically applicable counseling strategies compared with less experienced colleagues. Less favorable baseline levels of behavioral predictors among PNs possibly contributed to this effect, as there was more room for improvement by consulting the tailored content of the e-learning program. To further substantiate the effectiveness of e-learning programs on guideline adherence by health care professionals (HCPs), it is important to assess how to support a wider range of HCPs. Trial Registration: Netherlands Trial Register NTR4436; (Archived by WebCite at

  • Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Evaluation of App-Based Serious Gaming as a Training Method in Teaching Chest Tube Insertion to Medical Students: Randomized Controlled Trial


    Background: The insertion of a chest tube should be as quick and accurate as possible to maximize the benefit and minimize possible complications for the patient. Therefore, comprehensive training and assessment before an emergency situation are essential for proficiency in chest tube insertion. Serious games have become more prevalent in surgical training because they enable students to study and train a procedure independently, and errors made have no effect on patients. However, up-to-date evidence regarding the effect of serious games on performance in procedures in emergency medicine remains scarce. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the serious gaming approach in teaching medical students an emergency procedure (chest tube insertion) using the app Touch Surgery and a modified objective structural assessment of technical skills (OSATS). Methods: In a prospective, rater-blinded, randomized controlled trial, medical students were randomized into two groups: intervention group or control group. Touch Surgery has been established as an innovative and cost-free app for mobile devices. The fully automatic software enables users to train medical procedures and afterwards self-assess their training effort. The module chest tube insertion teaches each key step in the insertion of a chest tube and enables users the meticulous application of a chest tube. In contrast, the module “Thoracocentesis” discusses a basic thoracocentesis. All students attended a lecture regarding chest tube insertion (regular curriculum) and afterwards received a Touch Surgery training lesson: intervention group used the module chest tube insertion and the control group used Thoracocentesis as control training. Participants’ performance in chest tube insertion on a porcine model was rated on-site via blinded face-to-face rating and via video recordings using a modified OSATS tool. Afterwards, every participant received an individual questionnaire for self-evaluation. Here, trainees gave information about their individual training level, as well as previous experiences, gender, and hobbies. Primary end point was operative performance during chest tube insertion by direct observance. Results: A total of 183 students enrolled, 116 students participated (63.4%), and 21 were excluded because of previous experiences in chest tube insertion. Students were randomized to the intervention group (49/95, 52%) and control group (46/95, 48%). The intervention group performed significantly better than the control group (Intervention group: 38.0 [I50=7.0] points; control group: 30.5 [I50=8.0] points; P<.001). The intervention group showed significantly improved economy of time and motion (P=.004), needed significantly less help (P<.001), and was more confident in handling of instruments (P<.001) than the control group. Conclusions: The results from this study show that serious games are a valid and effective tool in education of operative performance in chest tube insertion. We believe that serious games should be implemented in the surgical curriculum, as well as residency programs, in addition to traditional learning methods. Trial Registration: German Clinical Trials Register (DRKS) DRKS00009994; (Archived by Webcite at

  • A doctor is explaining the correct way to use inhalers, which are becoming more and more digital by having Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi connectivity. Source: Wikimedia Commons; Copyright: Jorgejesus4; URL:ón_Médico_Paciente.png; License: Creative Commons Attribution + ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA).

    The Biopsychosocial-Digital Approach to Health and Disease: Call for a Paradigm Expansion


    Digital health is an advancing phenomenon in modern health care systems. Currently, numerous stakeholders in various countries are evaluating the potential benefits of digital health solutions at the individual, population, and/or organizational levels. Additionally, driving factors are being created from the customer-side of the health care systems to push health care providers, policymakers, or researchers to embrace digital health solutions. However, health care providers may differ in their approach to adopt these solutions. Health care providers are not assumed to be appropriately trained to address the requirements of integrating digital health solutions into daily everyday practices and procedures. To adapt to the changing demands of health care systems, it is necessary to expand relevant paradigms and to train human resources as required. In this article, a more comprehensive paradigm will be proposed, based on the ‘biopsychosocial model’ of assessing health and disease, originally introduced by George L Engel. The “biopsychosocial model” must be leveraged to include a “digital” component, thus suggesting a ‘biopsychosocial-digital’ approach to health and disease. Modifications to the “biopsychosocial” model and transition to the “biopsychosocial-digital” model are explained. Furthermore, the emerging implications of understanding health and disease are clarified pertaining to their relevance in training human resources for health care provision and research.

  • Source: iStock by Getty Images; Copyright: asiseeit; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Increasing Physical Activity in Mothers Using Video Exercise Groups and Exercise Mobile Apps: Randomized Controlled Trial


    Background: Women significantly decrease their activity levels in the transition to motherhood. Digital health technologies are low cost, scalable, and can provide an effective delivery mechanism for behavior change. This is the first study that examines the use of videoconferencing and mobile apps to create exercise groups for mothers. Objective: The aim of the study was to test the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of an individually adaptive and socially supportive physical activity intervention incorporating videoconferencing and mobile apps for mothers. Methods: The Moms Online Video Exercise Study was an 8-week, 2-armed, Web-based randomized trial comparing the effectiveness of a group exercise intervention with a waitlist control. Healthy mothers with at least 1 child under the age of 12 years were recruited through Facebook and email listservs. Intervention participants joined exercise groups using videoconferencing (Google Hangouts) every morning on weekdays and exercised together in real time, guided by exercise mobile apps (eg, Nike+, Sworkit) of their choice. Waitlist control participants had access to recommended mobile apps and an invitation to join an exercise group after the 8-week study period. Main outcomes assessed included changes in self-reported moderate, vigorous, and moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) minutes per week in aggregate and stratified by whether women met Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for sufficient aerobic activity at baseline. Outcomes were measured through self-assessed Web-based questionnaires at baseline and 8 weeks. Results: The intervention was effective at increasing exercise for inactive women and proved to be feasible and acceptable to all participants. A total of 64 women were randomized, 30 to intervention and 34 to control. Women attended 2.8 sessions per week. There was a strong, but not statistically significant, trend toward increasing moderate, vigorous, and MVPA minutes for all women. As hypothesized, in the prespecified stratum of women who were inactive at baseline (n=51), intervention participants significantly increased their activity by an average of 50 (95% CI 4.0-95.9, P=.03) MVPA minutes per week more than control participants. They had a corresponding statistically significant net increase of 19 (95% CI 3.2-34.8, P=.02) minutes of vigorous activity. Inactive women in the intervention arm also experienced promising reductions in depression, reporting a statistically significant net decrease in their depression score (−3.8, 95% CI −7.0 to −0.6; P=.02). Conclusions: We found that a group exercise intervention using videoconferencing and mobile apps was a feasible and acceptable way to deliver a physical activity intervention to mothers. The intervention increased physical activity in inactive mothers. Further studies are needed to better establish how long these changes in physical activity can be maintained and whether these findings can be reproduced in a more diverse population. Trial Registration: NCT02805140; (Archived by WebCite at

  • Source: Unsplash; Copyright: Christin Hume; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Alcohol Consumption Reduction Among a Web-Based Supportive Community Using the Hello Sunday Morning Blog Platform: Observational Study


    Background: Alcohol misuse is a major social and public health issue in Australia, with an estimated cost to the community of Aus $30 billion per annum. Until recently, a major barrier in addressing this significant public health issue is the fact that the majority of individuals with alcohol use disorders and alcohol misuse are not receiving treatment. Objective: This study aimed to assess whether alcohol consumption changes are associated with participation in Hello Sunday Morning’s blog platform, an online forum discussing experiences in abstaining from alcohol. Methods: The study reports on Hello Sunday Morning participants who signed up for a 3-month period of abstinence from November 2009 to November 2016. The sample comprised 1917 participants (female: 1227/1917, 64.01%; male: 690/1917, 35.99%). Main outcome measures were Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores, mood, program engagement metrics, and slip-ups. Results: Individuals who reported hazardous (preprogram AUDIT mean 11.92, SD 2.25) and harmful consumption levels (preprogram AUDIT mean 17.52, SD 1.08) and who engaged in the Hello Sunday Morning program reported a significant decrease in alcohol consumption, moving to lower risk consumption levels (hazardous, mean 7.59, SD 5.70 and harmful, mean 10.38, SD 7.43), 4 months following program commencement (P<.001). Those who reported high-risk or dependent consumption levels experienced the biggest reduction (preprogram mean 25.38, SD 4.20), moving to risky consumption (mean 15.83, SD 11.11), 4 months following program commencement (P<.001). These reductions in risk were maintained by participants in each group, 7 months following program commencement. Furthermore, those who engaged in the program more (as defined by more sign-ins, blogs posted, check-ins completed, and engagement with the community through likes and following) had lower alcohol consumption. Finally, those who experienced more slip-ups had lower alcohol consumption. Conclusions: Participation in an online forum can support long-term behavior change in individuals wishing to change their drinking behavior. Importantly, reductions in AUDIT scores appeared larger for those drinking at high-risk and hazardous levels before program commencement. This has promising implications for future models of alcohol reduction treatment, as online forums are an anonymous, accessible, and cost-effective alternative or adjunct to treatment-as-usual. Further research is needed into the specific mechanisms of change within a Web-based supportive community, as well as the role of specific mood states in predicting risky drinking behavior.

  • Source: Freepik; Copyright: Freepik; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Exploring Hospitals’ Use of Facebook: Thematic Analysis


    Background: Although health care organizations such as hospitals and clinics have widely embraced social media as a means to educate the community on health topics and increase patient loyalty and satisfaction, little is known about the content these organizations actually share when using social media channels. Objective: This study aimed to explore the types of content US hospitals post on their Facebook pages and how hospitals’ Facebook activities differ with regard to content types. Methods: We collected and thematically analyzed more than 1700 Facebook posts made over a 3-month period by 17 US hospitals. During the first phase, the 2 researchers coded a set of 159 posts and created an initial thematic web of content. During the second phase, the researchers coded the remaining posts and then revised, refined, and validated the initial web of content accordingly. Coding consensus was achieved on 1184 of the 1548 analyzable sampled posts (76.49%). Results: We identified a list of 13 unique health social media post themes and classified those themes into 3 thematic groups that included announcing, sharing, and recognizing activities. The most frequently used theme was sharing health information, which appeared in 35.81% (424/1184) of the posts analyzed. Such posts sought to provide health tips and advice to community members. Recognizing special days and recognizing employees were the second and third most frequently used themes, respectively, with 14.95% (177/1184) and 11.82% (140/1184) of the posts containing those themes. The frequency of these themes was surprising as the content was geared more toward stakeholders internal to the organization, although most previous literature has focused on social media as a tool to connect with external stakeholders. In addition, we found many of the posts involved more than one theme, and selected sets of themes co-occurred frequently. For example, 25.4% (45/177) of the posts recognizing special days also included content to share health information, and approximately 38% (32/85) of the posts announcing research activities also included content to share health information. Finally, we found similarities and differences between the sampled hospitals in terms of the types of content they posted more frequently on their Facebook pages. Conclusions: Hospitals use Facebook as an inexpensive way to educate people on health and wellness topics and to communicate different types of information and news to the public audience. Hospitals and clinics that are expanding their social media activities or are starting to embark on social media strategies can use the results of this study to better formulate their activities on Facebook.

  • Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The University of Sydney; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    An eHealth Capabilities Framework for Graduates and Health Professionals: Mixed-Methods Study


    Background: The demand for an eHealth-ready and adaptable workforce is placing increasing pressure on universities to deliver eHealth education. At present, eHealth education is largely focused on components of eHealth rather than considering a curriculum-wide approach. Objective: This study aimed to develop a framework that could be used to guide health curriculum design based on current evidence, and stakeholder perceptions of eHealth capabilities expected of tertiary health graduates. Methods: A 3-phase, mixed-methods approach incorporated the results of a literature review, focus groups, and a Delphi process to develop a framework of eHealth capability statements. Results: Participants (N=39) with expertise or experience in eHealth education, practice, or policy provided feedback on the proposed framework, and following the fourth iteration of this process, consensus was achieved. The final framework consisted of 4 higher-level capability statements that describe the learning outcomes expected of university graduates across the domains of (1) digital health technologies, systems, and policies; (2) clinical practice; (3) data analysis and knowledge creation; and (4) technology implementation and codesign. Across the capability statements are 40 performance cues that provide examples of how these capabilities might be demonstrated. Conclusions: The results of this study inform a cross-faculty eHealth curriculum that aligns with workforce expectations. There is a need for educational curriculum to reinforce existing eHealth capabilities, adapt existing capabilities to make them transferable to novel eHealth contexts, and introduce new learning opportunities for interactions with technologies within education and practice encounters. As such, the capability framework developed may assist in the application of eHealth by emerging and existing health care professionals. Future research needs to explore the potential for integration of findings into workforce development programs.

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  • Coping strategies and social support in a mobile phone “chat” application designed to support smoking cessation

    Date Submitted: May 24, 2018

    Open Peer Review Period: May 25, 2018 - Jul 20, 2018

    Background: Smoking is one of the most significant factors contributing to low life expectancy, health inequalities, and illness at the worldwide sacle. Smoking cessation attempts benefit from social...

    Background: Smoking is one of the most significant factors contributing to low life expectancy, health inequalities, and illness at the worldwide sacle. Smoking cessation attempts benefit from social support. Mobile phones have changed the way we communicate through the use of freely available message-oriented applications. Mobile application-based interventions for smoking cessation programs can provide interactive, supportive, and individually tailored interventions. Objective: To describe the emotions, coping strategies, beliefs, values, and cognitive evaluations of smokers who are in the process of quitting, and to analyze online social support provided through the analysis of messages posted to a chat function integrated into a mobile application (app). Methods: Descriptive qualitative research. Informants were smokers who participated in the chat of Tobbstop. The technique to generate information was documentary through messages collected from September 2014 through June 2016, specifically designed to support a smoking cessation intervention. A thematic content analysis of the messages applied two models: the Lazarus model to assess participant experiences and perceptions and the Cutrona model to evaluate online social support. Results: During the study period, 11,788 text messages were posted to the chat by 101 users. The most frequent messages offered information and emotional support, and all of the basic emotions were reported in the chat. The three most frequent coping strategies identified were: increased physical activity, different types of treatment such as nicotine replacement, and humor. Beliefs included the inevitability of weight gain and the notion that not using any type of medications is better for smoking cessation. Health and family were the values more frequently described, followed by freedom. A smoke-free environment was perceived as important to successful smoking cessation. The social support group that was developed with the app offered mainly emotional and informational support. Conclusions: Our analysis suggests that a chat integrated into a mobile application focused on supporting smoking cessation provides a useful tool for smokers who are in the process of quitting, by offering social support and a space to share concerns, information, or strategies. Clinical Trial: Trial Registration NCT01734421

  • Electronic Consultation Services Worldwide: An Environmental Scan

    Date Submitted: May 22, 2018

    Open Peer Review Period: May 25, 2018 - Jul 20, 2018

    Background: Excessive wait times for specialist care pose a serious concern for many patients, leading to duplication of tests, patient anxiety, and poorer health outcomes. In response to this issue,...

    Background: Excessive wait times for specialist care pose a serious concern for many patients, leading to duplication of tests, patient anxiety, and poorer health outcomes. In response to this issue, many healthcare systems have begun implementing technological innovations designed to improve the referral-consultation process. Among these services is electronic consultation (eConsult), which connects primary care providers and specialists via a secure platform to facilitate discussion of patients’ care. Objective: In this article, we examine the different eConsult services available worldwide and compare the strategies, barriers, and successes of their implementation in different healthcare contexts worldwide. Methods: We conducted an environmental scan comprised of three stages: a literature review, a grey literature search, and targeted, semi-structured key informant interviews. We searched Medline and EMBASE (literature review) and Google (grey literature search). Upon completing the searches, we generated a list of potential interview candidates from among the stakeholders identified. Potential participants included researchers, physicians, and decision-makers. Maximum variation sampling was employed to ensure sufficient breadth of participant experience. We conducted semi-structured interviews by telephone using an interview guide based on the RE-AIM framework. Analyses of transcripts were conducted using a thematic synthesis approach. Results: A total of 53 services emerged from the published and grey literature. Respondents from 10 services participated in telephone interviews. Four major themes emerged from the analysis: service structure, benefits of eConsult, implementation challenges, and implementation enablers. Conclusions: eConsult services have emerged in a variety of countries and health system contexts worldwide. Despite differences in structure, platform, and delivery of their services, respondents described similar barriers and enablers to implementation and growth, and reported improved access and high levels of satisfaction.

  • Frequency and attitudes of patients purchasing medications online: Hungarian cross-sectional study - Can we profile consumers turning to the Internet pharmacy market?

    Date Submitted: May 23, 2018

    Open Peer Review Period: May 24, 2018 - Jun 2, 2018

    Background: During the past two decades Internet has become an accepted way to purchase products and services. Apparently, buying medications online is no exception. Beside it’s benefits several pat...

    Background: During the past two decades Internet has become an accepted way to purchase products and services. Apparently, buying medications online is no exception. Beside it’s benefits several patient safety risks are linked to the purchase of medicines outside the traditional supply chain. Although ten thousands of Internet pharmacies are accessible on the web, the actual size of the market is unknown. Further, limited data is available on the use of Internet pharmacies, the number and attitude of people obtaining medications and other health products from the Internet. Objective: The authors aimed to gather information on the frequency and attitudes of patients purchasing medications online in a nationally representative sample of outpatients. Attitudes towards main supply chain channels, perceived benefits and disadvantages influencing online medication purchase are evaluated. Methods: A cross sectional explorative study using a personally administered survey was conducted in a representative sample of Hungarian outpatients in 2018. Results: A total of 1055 outpatients completed the survey (response rate 77.2%). Mean age was 45 years and 43.2% reported to have chronic health conditions. Majority (82.7%) of the respondents were aware of that medications can be obtained online, but only 4.17% (n=44) used the Internet for medication purchase previously. Attitudes towards the different pharmaceutical supply chain retail channels showed significant differences (p<0,01), respondents accepted retail pharmacy units as the most appropriate source of medications while rejected Internet pharmacies. Respondents were asked to evaluate nine statements regarding the potential benefits and disadvantages about the online medicine purchase, and based on the computed relative attitude rate there is a weak still significant tendency toward rejection (p<0,01). Correspondence of demographic factors, internet usage behavior and prospective online drug purchase attitude was evaluated. Respondents who use the internet more and purchase goods online will more likely to buy medications online. Further, younger age and higher educational level will determine the medication purchase behavior. Conclusions: Reasonable number of patients will purchase medications on the Internet in the near future. As illegitimate actors dominate the global online pharmacy market, there is an increased risk of patients buying products from illegal actors. Consequently, improved patient-provider communication and promotion campaigns are needed to inform the public on the safe use of Internet pharmacies, as these initiatives can directly prevent patient safety threats.

  • Long-term Effects of Telemonitoring on Healthcare Usage in Patients with Heart Failure or COPD

    Date Submitted: May 17, 2018

    Open Peer Review Period: May 23, 2018 - Jul 18, 2018

    Objective The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of home telemonitoring in reducing healthcare usage and costs in patients with heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease...

    Objective The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of home telemonitoring in reducing healthcare usage and costs in patients with heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Design The study was a retrospective observational study with a pre-post research design and a follow-up duration of up to 3 years, based on hospital data collected in the period 2012-2016. Setting Data was collected at the Slingeland Hospital in Doetinchem, The Netherlands. Participants In 2012 the Slingeland Hospital in The Netherlands started a telemonitoring program for patients with COPD or heart failure as part of their usual care. Patients were eligible for the telemonitoring program if they were in an advanced disease stage (New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class 3 or 4; COPD gold stage 3 or 4), received treatment for their condition by a cardiologist or pulmonary specialist at the Slingeland Hospital, were proficient in Dutch and capable of providing informed consent. Exclusion criteria were absence of the cognitive, physical or logistical ability required to fully participate in the program. Hundred seventy-seven patients with heart failure and 83 patients with COPD enrolled the program between 2012 and 2016. Intervention Using a touchscreen, participants with heart failure recorded their weight (daily), blood pressure and heart rate (once a week) through connected instruments, and completed a questionnaire about their symptoms (once a week). Symptoms in patients with COPD were monitored via the Clinical COPD Questionnaire (CCQ), which participants were asked to complete twice per week. All home registrations were sent via a telemonitoring application (cVitals, FocusCura, Driebergen-Rijssenburg) on the iPad to a medical service center were a trained nurse monitored the data and contacted the patient by video chat or a specialised nurse in the hospital in case of abnormal results, such as deviations from a preset threshold or alterations in symptom score. Outcome measures The primary outcome was the number of hospitalisations; the secondary outcomes were total number of hospitalisation days and healthcare costs during the follow-up period. Generalised Estimating Equations were applied to account for repeated measurements, adjusting for sex, age and length of follow-up. Results In heart failure patients (N=177), after initiation of home telemonitoring both the number of hospitalisations and the total number of hospitalisation days significantly decreased (incidence rate ratio of 0.35 (95% CI: 0.26-0.48) and 0.35 (95% CI: 0.24-0.51), respectively), as did the total healthcare costs (exp(B) = 0.11 (95% CI: 0.08-0.17)), all p < 0.001. In COPD patients (N=83) neither the number of hospitalisations nor the number of hospitalisation days changed compared to the pre-intervention period. However, the average healthcare costs were about 54% lower in COPD patients after the start of the home telemonitoring intervention (exp(B) = 0.46, 95% CI 0.25-0.84, p = 0.011). Conclusion Integrated telemonitoring significantly reduced the number of hospital admissions and days spent in hospital in patients with heart failure, but not in patients with COPD. Importantly, in both patients with heart failure and COPD the intervention substantially reduced the total healthcare costs.

  • Can Watson for Oncology replace oncologists: A comparative study between Watson for Oncology and our multidisciplinary tumor board

    Date Submitted: May 21, 2018

    Open Peer Review Period: May 23, 2018 - Jul 18, 2018

    Background: Artificial intelligence(AI)is developing quickly in the medical field, which gives convenience to both medical staff and patients. The AI CDSS Watson for Oncology (WFO) is an outstandi...

    Background: Artificial intelligence(AI)is developing quickly in the medical field, which gives convenience to both medical staff and patients. The AI CDSS Watson for Oncology (WFO) is an outstanding representative of AI in medical field, it can give prompt treatment recommendations to cancer patients, just as an excellent oncologist. It is more and more widely used in China, but there is no report about whether it suits Chinese patients. Here we report a retrospective study about the consistency of WFO's recommendations and commendations of the same patient given by our multi-disciplinary team board(MDT) at our center on lung cancer patients’ treatment. Objective: Our objective was to explore practicability of the WFO to the lung cancer cases in China and how to make it more suitable for Chinese patients with lung cancer. Methods: We selected all the lung cancer patients who were hospitalized and received antitumor treatment in the 2nd Xiangya hospital cancer center for the first time from September to December in 2017. WFO gave treatment recommendations to all qualified cases. If our actual therapeutic regimen (which was given by our MDT) was “recommended” or “for consideration” in WFO, we thought it was of consistency, if it was “not recommended” or WFO didn’t have this option, we thought it was of no consistency. Blind second round reviews were made by our MDT to reassess the incongruent cases. Results: WFO didn’t support 18% of all the cases (n=182). Of the 149 cases (82%) supported, 66% were consistent with our MDT recommendations. Subgroup analysis showed that pathological type and staging had a significant effect on consistency (p=0.004, p=0, respectively). Age, gender, whether there was gene mutation or not had no effect on consistency. In 81% of the inconsistent cases, our MDT gave two treatments with Chinese characteristics , which were different from recommendations given by WFO but were also with excellent effect. If WFO can bring the two alternative treatments into the recommended or considered range, the overall consistency can be elevated from 66% to 93%. Conclusions: In China, the majority of the treatment recommendations of WFO are consistent with the recommendation of the expert group, but there is still a relative high proportion of cases which are not supported by WFO. WFO cannot substitute our oncologists currently. As doctors’ assistant, it can improve the efficiency of our work, and it needs to learn local characteristics of patients to become a better assistant. Clinical Trial: none

  • Publicly available, interactive Option GridTM patient decision aid shifts user preferences about the PSA test, increases knowledge and reduces decisional conflict

    Date Submitted: May 21, 2018

    Open Peer Review Period: May 21, 2018 - Jul 16, 2018

    Background: Randomized trials of web-based decision aids for prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing indicate that these interventions improve knowledge and reduce decisional conflict. However, we do...

    Background: Randomized trials of web-based decision aids for prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing indicate that these interventions improve knowledge and reduce decisional conflict. However, we do not know about these tools’ impact on people who spontaneously use a PSA testing patient decision aid on the internet. Objective: 1) Determine the impact of publicly available web-based PSA Option Grid patient decision aids on preference shift, knowledge, and decisional conflict; 2) identify which frequently asked questions (FAQs) are associated with preference shift; 3) explore the possible relationships between these outcomes. Methods: Data were collected between January 1, 2016 and December 30, 2017. Users who accessed the online, interactive PSA Option Grid were provided with three options – have a PSA test, no PSA test, unsure. Users first declared their initial preference, completed five knowledge questions, and a four-item (yes or no) validated decisional conflict scale (SURE). Next, users were presented with ten FAQs and asked to identify their preference for each question based on the information provided. At the end, users declared their final preference and completed the same knowledge and decisional conflict questions. Paired sample t-tests were employed to compare before-and-after knowledge and decisional conflict scores. A multinomial regression analysis was conducted to determine which FAQs were associated with a shift in screening preference. Results: Of the 467 people who accessed the PSA Option Grid, 186 (40%) completed the interactive journey and associated surveys. After excluding 22 female users, we analyzed 164 responses. At completion, users shifted their preference to ‘not having the PSA test’ (26% vs 71%; P <.01), had higher levels of knowledge (68% vs 89%, P < .01), and lower decisional conflict (57% vs 11%, P < .01). Three FAQs were associated with preference shift: What does the test involve? If my PSA level is high, what are the chances that I have prostate cancer? What are the risks? No relationships were present between knowledge, decisional conflict, and preference shift. Conclusions: Unprompted use of the interactive PSA Option Grid leads to preference shift, increased knowledge, and reduced decisional conflict which confirms the ability of these tools to influence decision-making, even when used outside clinical encounters.