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Journal Description

JMIR Human Factors (JHF, ISSN 2292-9495; Editor-in-Chief: Prof. Andre Kushniruk) is a multidisciplinary journal with contributions from design experts, medical researchers, engineers, and social scientists.

JMIR Human Factors focuses on understanding how the behaviour and thinking of humans can influence and shape the design of health care interventions and technologies, and how the design can be evaluated and improved to make health care interventions and technologies usable, safe, and effective. This includes usability studies and heuristic evaluations, studies concerning ergonomics and error prevention, design studies for medical devices and healthcare systems/workflows, enhancing teamwork through Human Factors based teamwork training, measuring non-technical skills in staff like leadership, communication, situational awareness and teamwork, and healthcare policies and procedures to reduce errors and increase safety.
JHF aspires to lead health care towards a culture of "usability by design", as well as to a culture of testing, error-prevention and safety, by promoting and publishing reports rigorously evaluating the usability and human factors aspects in health care, as well as encouraging the development and debate on new methods in this emerging field. 

All articles are professionally copyedited and typeset, ready for indexing in PubMed/PubMed Central. Possible contributions include usability studies and heuristic evaluations, studies concerning ergonomics and error prevention, design studies for medical devices and healthcare systems/workflows, enhancing teamwork through Human Factors based teamwork training, measuring non-technical skills in staff like leadership, communication, situational awareness and teamwork, and healthcare policies and procedures to reduce errors and increase safety. Reviews, viewpoint papers and tutorials are as welcome as original research.

Recent Articles:

  • Source: Burst; Copyright: Matthew Henry; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Characterizing and Visualizing Display and Task Fragmentation in the Electronic Health Record: Mixed Methods Design


    Background: The complexity of health care data and workflow presents challenges to the study of usability in electronic health records (EHRs). Display fragmentation refers to the distribution of relevant data across different screens or otherwise far apart, requiring complex navigation for the user’s workflow. Task and information fragmentation also contribute to cognitive burden. Objective: This study aims to define and analyze some of the main sources of fragmentation in EHR user interfaces (UIs); discuss relevant theoretical, historical, and practical considerations; and use granular microanalytic methods and visualization techniques to help us understand the nature of fragmentation and opportunities for EHR optimization or redesign. Methods: Sunburst visualizations capture the EHR navigation structure, showing levels and sublevels of the navigation tree, allowing calculation of a new measure, the Display Fragmentation Index. Time belt visualizations present the sequences of subtasks and allow calculation of proportion per instance, a measure that quantifies task fragmentation. These measures can be used separately or in conjunction to compare EHRs as well as tasks and subtasks in workflows and identify opportunities for reductions in steps and fragmentation. We present an example use of the methods for comparison of 2 different EHR interfaces (commercial and composable) in which subjects apprehend the same patient case. Results: Screen transitions were substantially reduced for the composable interface (from 43 to 14), whereas clicks (including scrolling) remained similar. Conclusions: These methods can aid in our understanding of UI needs under complex conditions and tasks to optimize EHR workflows and redesign.

  • Source: Adobe Stock; Copyright: olgasparrow; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    New Patient Education Video on Colonoscopy Preparation: Development and Evaluation Study


    Background: Although several patient education materials on colonoscopy preparation exist, few studies have evaluated or compared them; hence, there is no professional consensus on recommended content or media to use. Objective: This study aims to address this need by developing and evaluating a new video on colonoscopy preparation. Methods: We developed a new video explaining split-dose bowel preparation for colonoscopy. Of similar content videos on the internet (n=20), the most favorably reviewed video among patient and physician advisers was used as the comparator for the study. A total of 232 individuals attending gastroenterology or urology clinics reviewed the new and comparator videos. The order of administration of the new and comparator videos was randomly counterbalanced to assess the impact of presentation order. Respondents rated each video on the following dimensions: information amount, clarity, trustworthiness, understandability, new or familiar information, reassurance, information learned, understanding from the patient’s point of view, appeal, and the likelihood of recommending the video to others. Results: Overall, 71.6% (166/232) of the participants preferred the new video, 25.0% (58/232) preferred the comparator video, and 3.4% (8/232) were not sure. Furthermore, 64.0% (71/111) of those who viewed the new video first preferred it, whereas 77.7% (94/121) of the participants who viewed the new video second preferred it. Multivariable logistic regression analysis also demonstrated that participants were more likely to prefer the new video if they had viewed it second. Participants who preferred the new video rated it as clearer and more trustworthy than those who preferred the comparator video. Conclusions: This study developed and assessed the strengths of a newly developed colonoscopy educational video.

  • Source:; Copyright: S O C I A L . C U T; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Privacy Perceptions and Concerns in Image-Based Dietary Assessment Systems: Questionnaire-Based Study


    Background: Complying with individual privacy perceptions is essential when processing personal information for research. Our specific research area is performance development of elite athletes, wherein nutritional aspects are important. Before adopting new automated tools that capture such data, it is crucial to understand and address the privacy concerns of the research subjects that are to be studied. Privacy as contextual integrity emphasizes understanding contextual sensitivity in an information flow. In this study, we explore privacy perceptions in image-based dietary assessments. This research field lacks empirical evidence on what will be considered as privacy violations when exploring trends in long-running studies. Prior studies have only classified images as either private or public depending on their basic content. An assessment and analysis are thus needed to prevent unwanted consequences of privacy breach and other issues perceived as sensitive when designing systems for dietary assessment by using food images. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate common perceptions of computer systems using food images for dietary assessment. The study delves into perceived risks and data-sharing behaviors. Methods: We investigated the privacy perceptions of 105 individuals by using a web-based survey. We analyzed these perceptions along with perceived risks in sharing dietary information with third parties. Results: We found that understanding the motive behind the use of data increases its chances of sharing with a social group. Conclusions: In this study, we highlight various privacy concerns that can be addressed during the design phase. A system design that is compliant with general data protection regulations will increase participants’ and stakeholders’ trust in an image-based dietary assessment system. Innovative solutions are needed to reduce the intrusiveness of a continuous assessment. Individuals show varying behaviors for sharing metadata, as knowing what the data is being used for, increases the chance of it being shared.

  • Source: Image created by the Authors/Shuttershock; Copyright: The Authors/blackzheep; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    A Novel Auditory-Cognitive Training App for Delaying or Preventing the Onset of Dementia: Participatory Design With Stakeholders


    Background: Multiple gaming apps exist under the dementia umbrella for skills such as navigation; however, an app to specifically investigate the role of hearing loss in the process of cognitive decline is yet to be designed. There is a demonstrable gap in the utilization of games to further the knowledge of the potential relationship between hearing loss and dementia. Objective: This study aims to identify the needs, facilitators, and barriers in designing a novel auditory-cognitive training gaming app. Methods: A participatory design approach was used to engage key stakeholders across audiology and cognitive disorder specialties. Two rounds, including paired semistructured interviews and focus groups, were completed and thematically analyzed. Results: A total of 18 stakeholders participated, and 6 themes were identified to inform the next stage of app development. These included congruence with hobbies, life getting in the way, motivational challenge, accessibility, addictive competition, and realism. Conclusions: The findings can now be implemented in the development of the app. The app will be evaluated against outcome measures of speech listening in noise, cognitive and attentional tasks, quality of life, and usability.

  • Source: freepik; Copyright: ijeab; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Document-Engineering Methodology in Health Care: An Innovative Behavioral Science–Based Approach to Improve Patient Empowerment


    Engaging patients in their treatment and making them experts of their condition has been identified as a high priority across many medical disciplines. Patient empowerment claims to improve compliance, patient safety, and disease outcome. Patient empowerment may help the patient in shared decision making and in becoming an informed partner of the health care professional. We consider patient empowerment to be in jeopardy if written medical information for patients is too complex and confusing. We introduce document-engineering methodology (DEM) as a new tool for the health care industry. DEM tries to implement principles of cognitive science and neuroscience-based concepts of reading and comprehension. It follows the most recent document design techniques. DEM has been used in the aviation, mining, and oil industries. In these very industries, DEM was integrated to improve user performance, prevent harm, and increase safety. We postulate that DEM, applied to written documents in health care, will help patients to quickly navigate through complex written information and thereby enable them to better comprehend the essence of the medical information. DEM aims to empower the patient and help start an informed conversation with their health care professional. The ultimate goals of DEM are to increase adherence and compliance, leading to improved outcomes. Our approach is innovative, as we apply our learning from other industries to health care; we call this cross-industry innovation. In this manuscript, we provide illustrative examples of DEM in three frequent clinical scenarios: (1) explaining a complex diagnosis for the first time, (2) understanding medical leaflet information, and (3) exploring cannabis-based medicine. There is an urgent need to test DEM in larger clinical cohorts and for careful proof-of-concept studies, regarding patient and stakeholder engagement, to be conducted.

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

    Embedding the Pillars of Quality in Health Information Technology Solutions Using “Integrated Patient Journey Mapping” (IPJM): Case Study


    Background: Health information technology (HIT) and associated data analytics offer significant opportunities for tackling some of the more complex challenges currently facing the health care sector. However, to deliver robust health care service improvements, it is essential that HIT solutions be designed by parallelly considering the 3 core pillars of health care quality: clinical effectiveness, patient safety, and patient experience. This requires multidisciplinary teams to design interventions that both adhere to medical protocols and achieve the tripartite goals of effectiveness, safety, and experience. Objective: In this paper, we present a design tool called Integrated Patient Journey Mapping (IPJM) that was developed to assist multidisciplinary teams in designing effective HIT solutions to address the 3 core pillars of health care quality. IPJM is intended to support the analysis of requirements as well as to promote empathy and the emergence of shared commitment and understanding among multidisciplinary teams. Methods: A 6-month, in-depth case study was conducted to derive findings on the use of IPJM during Learning to Evaluate Blood Pressure at Home (LEANBH), a connected health project that developed an HIT solution for the perinatal health context. Data were collected from over 700 hours of participant observations and 10 semistructured interviews. Results: The findings indicate that IPJM offered a constructive tool for multidisciplinary teams to work together in designing an HIT solution, through mapping the physical and emotional journey of patients for both the current service and the proposed connected health service. This allowed team members to consider the goals, tasks, constraints, and actors involved in the delivery of this journey and to capture requirements for the digital touchpoints of the connected health service. Conclusions: Overall, IPJM facilitates the design and implementation of complex HITs that require multidisciplinary participation. Trial Registration:

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

    Understanding the Attitudes of Clinicians and Patients Toward a Self-Management eHealth Tool for Atrial Fibrillation: Qualitative Study


    Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disorder and poses a growing disease burden worldwide because of an aging population. A multidisciplinary approach with an emphasis on patient education and self-management has been demonstrated to improve outcomes for AF through the engagement of patients in their own care. Although electronic tools (e-tools) such as apps have been proposed to provide patient education and facilitate self-management, there have been few studies to guide the development of these tools for patients with AF. Objective: This study aims to explore the perceptions of patients and health care providers (HCPs) and their attitudes toward the use of e-tools for the self-management of AF. It also seeks to elicit the factors that contribute to these attitudes. Methods: Semistructured qualitative interviews with HCPs and patients were conducted to understand the interpretations and expectations of an e-tool that would be used for the self-management of AF. Interview data were analyzed using an exploratory thematic analysis approach to uncover emergent themes and infer ideas of preferred features in a device. A modified technology acceptance model was developed as a framework to help interpret these findings. Data from the HCPs and patients were compared and contrasted. Results: Both patients and HCPs thought that an e-tool would be useful in the self-management of AF. Although both groups favored educational content and monitoring of blood pressure, patients expressed more passivity toward self-care and an ambivalence toward the use of technology to monitor their medical condition. This appears to be related to factors such as a patient’s age, social support, and their attitudes toward technology. Instead, they favored using the app to contact their HCPs. Conclusions: This study provides insights into significant differences in the attitudes of patients and HCPs toward the use of e-tools for self-care against their priorities. Understanding patients’ motivations and their needs are key to ensuring higher acceptance of such tools.

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

    Mobile App for Monitoring 3-Month Postoperative Functional Outcome After Hip Fracture: Usability Study


    Background: As a result of an aging population, there has been an increasing incidence of hip fractures worldwide. In the Netherlands, in order to improve the quality of care for elderly patients with hip fractures, the multidisciplinary Centre for Geriatric Traumatology was established in 2008 at the Department of Trauma Surgery at Ziekenhuisgroep Twente hospital (located in Almelo and Hengelo in the Netherlands). Objective: Though the Dutch Hip Fracture audit is used to monitor the quality of care for patients with fractures of the hip, only 30.7% of patients complete registration in the 3-month follow-up period. Mobile apps offer an opportunity for improvement in this area. The aim of this study was to investigate the usability and acceptance of a mobile app for gathering indicators of quality of care in a 3-month follow-up period after postoperative treatment of hip fracture. Methods: From July 2017 to December 2017, patients who underwent surgical treatment for hip fracture were recruited. Patients and caregivers, who were collectively considered the participant cohort, were asked to download the app and answer a questionnaire. Participants were divided into two groups—those who downloaded the app and those who did not download the app. A telephone interview that was based upon the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology was conducted with a subset of participants from each group (1:1 ratio). This study was designated as not being subject to the Dutch Medical Research Involving Human Subjects Act according to the appropriate medical research ethics committees. Results: Of the patients and caregivers who participated, 26.4% (29/110) downloaded the app, whereas 73.6% (81/110) did not. Telephone interviews with the subset of participants (n=24 per group) revealed that 54.0% (13/24) of the group of participants who did not download the app had forgotten the study. Among the group who downloaded the app, 95.8% (23/24) had the intention of completing the questionnaire, but only 4.2% (1/24) did so. The reasons for not completing the questionnaire included technical problems, cognitive disorders, or patient dependency on caregivers. Most participants in the group who downloaded the app self-reported a high level of expertise in using a smartphone (22/24, 91.7%), and sufficient facilitating conditions for using a smartphone were self-reported in both groups (downloaded the app: 23/24, 95.8%; did not download the app: 21/24, 87.5%), suggesting that these factors were not barriers to completion. Conclusions: Despite self-reported intention to use the app, smartphone expertise, and sufficient facilitating conditions for smartphone use, implementation of the mobile app was infeasible for daily practice. This was due to a combination of technical problems, factors related to the implementation process, and the population of interest having cognitive disorders or a dependency on caregivers for mobile technology.

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

    Embodied Conversational Agent Appearance for Health Assessment of Older Adults: Explorative Study


    Background: Embodied conversational agents (ECAs) have great potential for health apps but are rarely investigated as part of such apps. To promote the uptake of health apps, we need to understand how the design of ECAs can influence the preferences, motivation, and behavior of users. Objective: This is one of the first studies that investigates how the appearance of an ECA implemented within a health app affects users’ likeliness of following agent advice, their perception of agent characteristics, and their feeling of rapport. In addition, we assessed usability and intention to use. Methods: The ECA was implemented within a frailty assessment app in which three health questionnaires were translated into agent dialogues. In a within-subject experiment, questionnaire dialogues were randomly offered by a young female agent or an older male agent. Participants were asked to think aloud during interaction. Afterward, they rated the likeliness of following the agent’s advice, agent characteristics, rapport, usability, and intention to use and participated in a semistructured interview. Results: A total of 20 older adults (72.2 [SD 3.5] years) participated. The older male agent was perceived as more authoritative than the young female agent (P=.03), but no other differences were found. The app scored high on usability (median 6.1) and intention to use (median 6.0). Participants indicated they did not see an added value of the agent to the health app. Conclusions: Agent age and gender little influence users’ impressions after short interaction but remain important at first glance to lower the threshold to interact with the agent. Thus, it is important to take the design of ECAs into account when implementing them into health apps.

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

    Applying a Human-Centered Design to Develop a Patient Prioritization Tool for a Pediatric Emergency Department: Detailed Case Study of First Iterations


    Background: Overcrowding in the emergency departments has become an increasingly significant problem. Patient triage strategies are acknowledged to help clinicians manage patient flow and reduce patients’ waiting time. However, electronic patient triage systems are not developed so that they comply with clinicians’ workflow. Objective: This case study presents the development of a patient prioritization tool (PPT) and of the related patient prioritization algorithm (PPA) for a pediatric emergency department (PED), relying on a human-centered design process. Methods: We followed a human-centered design process, wherein we (1) performed a work system analysis through observations and interviews in an academic hospital’s PED; (2) deduced design specifications; (3) designed a mock PPT and the related PPA; and (4) performed user testing to assess the intuitiveness of the icons, the effectiveness in communicating patient priority, the fit between the prioritization model implemented and the participants’ prioritization rules, and the participants’ satisfaction. Results: The workflow analysis identified that the PPT interface should meet the needs of physicians and nurses, represent the stages of patient care, and contain patient information such as waiting time, test status (eg, prescribed, in progress), age, and a suggestion for prioritization. The mock-up developed gives the status of patients progressing through the PED; a strip represents the patient and the patient’s characteristics, including a delay indicator that compares the patient’s waiting time to the average waiting time of patients with a comparable reason for emergency. User tests revealed issues with icon intuitiveness, information gaps, and possible refinements in the prioritization algorithm. Conclusions: The results of the user tests have led to modifications to improve the usability and usefulness of the PPT and its PPA. We discuss the value of integrating human factors into the design process for a PPT for PED. The PPT/PPA has been developed and installed in Lille University Hospital's PED. Studies are carried out to evaluate the use and impact of this tool on clinicians’ situation awareness and prioritization-related cognitive load, prioritization of patients, waiting time, and patients’ experience.

  • Source: Shutterstock, Inc.; Copyright: Ollyy; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Integration of Conversion Factors for the Development of an Inclusive eHealth Tool With Caregivers of Functionally Dependent Older Persons: Social Justice...


    Background: eHealth can help reduce social health inequalities (SHIs); at the same time, it also has the potential to increase them. Several conversion factors can be integrated into the development of an eHealth tool to make it inclusive: (1) providing physical, technical, and financial access to eHealth; (2) enabling the integration of people at risk of SHIs into the research and development of digital projects targeting such populations (co-design or participatory research); (3) promoting consistency between the digital health literacy level of future users (FUs) and the eHealth tool; (4) developing an eHealth tool that is consistent with the technological skills of FUs; (5) ensuring that the eHealth tool is consistent with the help-seeking process of FUs; (6) respecting the learning capacities of FUs; and (7) being sensitive to FUs’ cultural context. However, only little empirical evidence pointing out how these conversion factors can be integrated into an effective eHealth tool is available. Objective: On the basis of Amartya Sen’s theoretical framework of social justice, the objective of this study was to explore how these 7 conversion factors can be integrated into an eHealth tool for caregivers of functionally dependent older persons. Methods: This study was based on a social justice design and participant observation as part of a large-scale research project funded by the Ministère de la Famille through the Quebec Ami des Aînés Program. Data were collected by recording the preparation sessions, the co-design and advisory committee sessions, as well as the debriefing sessions. The results were analyzed using Miles and Huberman’s method. Results: A total of 78 co-designers participated in 11 co-design sessions, 24 preparation sessions, and 11 debriefing sessions. Of the 7 conversion factors, 5 could be explored in this experiment. The integration of conversion factors has been uneven. The participation of FUs in the development of the tool supports other conversion factors. Respecting the eHealth literacy level of FUs means that their learning abilities and technological skills are also respected because they are closely related to one another and are therefore practically difficult to be distinguished. Conclusions: Conversion factors can be integrated into the development of eHealth tools that are intended to be inclusive and contribute to curbing SHIs by integrating FU participation into the tool design process.

  • Source: Pexels; Copyright: Polina Tankilevitch; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Opportunities and Recommendations for Improving Medication Safety: Understanding the Medication Management System in Primary Care Through an Abstraction...


    Background: Despite making great strides in improving the treatment of diseases, the minimization of unintended harm by medication therapy continues to be a major hurdle facing the health care system. Medication error and prescription of potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) represent a prevalent source of harm to patients and are associated with increased rates of adverse events, hospitalizations, and increased health care costs. Attempts to improve medication management systems in primary care have had mixed results. Implementation of new interventions is difficult because of complex contextual factors within the health care system. Abstraction hierarchy (AH), the first step in cognitive work analysis (CWA), is used by human factors practitioners to describe complex sociotechnical systems. Although initially intended for the nuclear power domain and interface design, AH has been used successfully to aid the redesign of numerous health care systems such as the design of decision support tools, mobile patient monitoring apps, and a telephone triage system. Objective: This paper aims to refine our understanding of the primary care office in relation to a patient’s medication through the development of an AH. Emphasis was placed on the elements related to medication safety to provide guidance for the design of a safer medication management system in primary care. Methods: The AH development was guided by the methodology used by seminal CWA literature. It was initially developed by 2 authors and later fine-tuned by an expert panel of clinicians, social scientists, and a human factors engineer. It was subsequently refined until an agreement was reached. A means-ends analysis was performed and described for the nodes of interest. The model represents the primary care office space through functional purposes, values and priorities, function-related purposes, object-related processes, and physical objects. Results: This model depicts the medication management system at various levels of abstraction. The resulting components must be balanced and coordinated to provide medical treatment with limited health care resources. Understanding the physical and informational constraints on activities that occur in a primary care office depicted in the AH defines areas in which medication safety can be improved. Conclusions: Numerous means-ends relationships were identified and analyzed. These can be further evaluated depending on the specific needs of the user. Recommendations for optimizing a medication management system in a primary care facility were made. Individual practices can use AH for clinical redesign to improve prescribing and deprescribing practices.

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