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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: 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.

  • Nurse programming a smart pump and receiving a warning from the Dose Error Reduction System. Source: BD Media Beacon; Copyright: James Waterson; URL:; License: Ownership of image given by Medical Affairs Department, BD.

    Twelve-Month Review of Infusion Pump Near-Miss Medication and Dose Selection Errors and User-Initiated “Good Save” Corrections: Retrospective Study


    Background: There is a paucity of quantitative evidence in the current literature on the incidence of wrong medication and wrong dose administration of intravenous medications by clinicians. The difficulties of obtaining reliable data are related to the fact that at this stage of the medication administration chain, detection of errors is extremely difficult. Smart pump medication library logs and their reporting software record medication and dose selections made by users, as well as cancellations of selections and the time between these actions. Analysis of these data adds quantitative data to the detection of these kinds of errors. Objective: We aimed to establish, in a reproducible and reliable study, baseline data to show how metrics in the set-up and programming phase of intravenous medication administration can be produced from medication library near-miss error reports from infusion pumps. Methods: We performed a 12-month retrospective review of medication library reports from infusion pumps from across a facility to obtain metrics on the set-up phase of intravenous medication administration. Cancelled infusions and resolutions of all infusion alerts by users were analyzed. Decision times of clinicians were calculated from the time-date stamps of the pumps’ logs. Results: Incorrect medication selections represented 3.45% (10,017/290,807) of all medication library alerts and 22.40% (10,017/44,721) of all cancelled infusions. Of these cancelled medications, all high-risk medications, oncology medications, and all intravenous medications delivered to pediatric patients and neonates required a two-nurse check according to the local policy. Wrong dose selection was responsible for 2.93% (8533/290,807) of all alarms and 19.08% (8533/44,721) of infusion cancellations. Average error recognition to cancellation and correction times were 27.00 s (SD 22.25) for medication error correction and 26.52 s (SD 24.71) for dose correction. The mean character count of medications corrected from initial lookalike-soundalike selection errors was 13.04, with a heavier distribution toward higher character counts. The position of the word/phrase error was spread among name beginning (6991/10,017, 69.79%), middle (2144/10,017, 21.40%), and end (882/10,017, 8.80%). Conclusions: The study identified a high number of lookalike-soundalike near miss errors, with cancellation of one medication being rapidly followed by the programming of a second. This phenomenon was largely centered on initial misreadings of the beginning of the medication name, with some incidences of misreading in the middle and end portions of medication nomenclature. The value of an infusion pump showing the entire medication name complete with TALLman lettering on the interface matching that of medication labeling is supported by these findings. The study provides a quantitative appraisal of an area that has been resistant to study and measurement, which is the number of intravenous medication administration errors of wrong medication and wrong dose that occur in clinical settings.

  • The Ada Health app (montage). Source: Shutterstock/Ada; Copyright:; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Patients’ Utilization and Perception of an Artificial Intelligence–Based Symptom Assessment and Advice Technology in a British Primary Care Waiting Room:...


    Background: When someone needs to know whether and when to seek medical attention, there are a range of options to consider. Each will have consequences for the individual (primarily considering trust, convenience, usefulness, and opportunity costs) and for the wider health system (affecting clinical throughput, cost, and system efficiency). Digital symptom assessment technologies that leverage artificial intelligence may help patients navigate to the right type of care with the correct degree of urgency. However, a recent review highlighted a gap in the literature on the real-world usability of these technologies. Objective: We sought to explore the usability, acceptability, and utility of one such symptom assessment technology, Ada, in a primary care setting. Methods: Patients with a new complaint attending a primary care clinic in South London were invited to use a custom version of the Ada symptom assessment mobile app. This exploratory pilot study was conducted between November 2017 and January 2018 in a practice with 20,000 registered patients. Participants were asked to complete an Ada self-assessment about their presenting complaint on a study smartphone, with assistance provided if required. Perceptions on the app and its utility were collected through a self-completed study questionnaire following completion of the Ada self-assessment. Results: Over a 3-month period, 523 patients participated. Most were female (n=325, 62.1%), mean age 39.79 years (SD 17.7 years), with a larger proportion (413/506, 81.6%) of working-age individuals (aged 15-64) than the general population (66.0%). Participants rated Ada’s ease of use highly, with most (511/522, 97.8%) reporting it was very or quite easy. Most would use Ada again (443/503, 88.1%) and agreed they would recommend it to a friend or relative (444/520, 85.3%). We identified a number of age-related trends among respondents, with a directional trend for more young respondents to report Ada had provided helpful advice (50/54, 93%, 18-24-year olds reported helpful) than older respondents (19/32, 59%, adults aged 70+ reported helpful). We found no sex differences on any of the usability questions fielded. While most respondents reported that using the symptom checker would not have made a difference in their care-seeking behavior (425/494, 86.0%), a sizable minority (63/494, 12.8%) reported they would have used lower-intensity care such as self-care, pharmacy, or delaying their appointment. The proportion was higher for patients aged 18-24 (11/50, 22%) than aged 70+ (0/28, 0%). Conclusions: In this exploratory pilot study, the digital symptom checker was rated as highly usable and acceptable by patients in a primary care setting. Further research is needed to confirm whether the app might appropriately direct patients to timely care, and understand how this might save resources for the health system. More work is also needed to ensure the benefits accrue equally to older age groups.

  • Source: Colourbox; Copyright: Supplier #2418; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Process Evaluation of an eHealth Intervention (Food4toddlers) to Improve Toddlers' Diet: Randomized Controlled Trial


    Background: Parents seek trustworthy information online to promote healthy eating for their toddlers. Such information must be perceived as relevant and easy to implement and use. Objective: The objectives of this study were to conduct a process evaluation of the electronic health (eHealth) intervention (Food4toddlers) targeting food environment, parental feeding practices, and toddlers’ diet and to examine possible differences in these areas according to education and family composition. Methods: A 2-armed randomized controlled trial, including 298 parent–toddler dyads from Norway, was conducted in 2017. In total, 148 parents in the intervention group received access to an intervention website for 6 months. Data on website usage were retrieved from the learning management platform used (NEO). Participants’ satisfaction with the intervention was asked for in a postintervention questionnaire. Chi-square and t tests were used to examine differences in usage and satisfaction between education and family composition groups. Results: Most participants were mothers (144/148, 97.2%), lived in two-adult households (148/148, 100%), and were born in Norway (132/148, 89.1%). Mean parental age was 31.5 years (SD 4.2). More than 87.8% (129/147) had a university education degree and 56.5% (83/147) had over 4 years of university education. Most (128/148, 86.5%) intervention participants entered the website at least once (mean days of access 7.4 [SD 7.1]). Most parents reported the website as appropriate to the child’s age (71/83, 86%) and self-explanatory (79/83, 95%) and appreciated the interface (52/83, 63%) and layout (46/83, 55%). In total, 61% (51/83) stated that they learned something new from the intervention. Parents with over 4 years of university education and in 1-child households used the intervention website more than those with 4 years or less of university education (8.4 vs 5.9 days in total, P=.04) and households with more than 1 child (8.3 vs 5.8 days in total, P=.04), respectively. Conclusions: The Food4toddlers intervention website was found to be relevant by most participants in the intervention group, although usage of the website differed according to educational level and family composition. For eHealth interventions to be effective, intervention materials such as websites must be used by the target group. Our results highlight the need to include users from different groups when developing interventions. Trial Registration: ISRCTN Registry ISRCTN92980420;

  • Source: Image created by the Authors / Pixabay; Copyright: The Authors / Free-Photos; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Novel Interface Designs for Patient Monitoring Applications in Critical Care Medicine: Human Factors Review


    Background: The patient monitor (PM) is one of the most commonly used medical devices in hospitals worldwide. PMs are used to monitor patients’ vital signs in a wide variety of patient care settings, especially in critical care settings, such as intensive care units. An interesting observation is that the design of PMs has not significantly changed over the past 2 decades, with the layout and structure of PMs more or less unchanged, with incremental changes in design being made rather than transformational changes. Thus, we believe it well-timed to review the design of novel PM interfaces, with particular reference to usability and human factors. Objective: This paper aims to review innovations in PM design proposed by researchers and explore how clinicians responded to these design changes. Methods: A literature search of relevant databases, following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, identified 16 related studies. A detailed description of the interface design and an analysis of each novel PM were carried out, including a detailed analysis of the structure of the different user interfaces, to inform future PM design. The test methodologies used to evaluate the different designs are also presented. Results: Most of the studies included in this review identified some level of improvement in the clinician’s performance when using a novel display in comparison with the traditional PM. For instance, from the 16 reviewed studies, 12 studies identified an improvement in the detection and response times, and 10 studies identified an improvement in the accuracy or treatment efficiency. This indicates that novel displays have the potential to improve the clinical performance of nurses and doctors. However, the outcomes of some of these studies are weakened because of methodological deficiencies. These deficiencies are discussed in detail in this study. Conclusions: More careful study design is warranted to investigate the user experience and usability of future novel PMs for real time vital sign monitoring, to establish whether or not they could be used successfully in critical care. A series of recommendations on how future novel PM designs and evaluations can be enhanced are provided.

  • Source: MAMA Research Team; Copyright: The Authors; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    The Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action Text Message–Based mHealth Intervention for Maternal Care in South Africa: Qualitative User Study


    Background: Using mobile technology to support health care (mobile health [mHealth]) has been shown to improve health outcomes across a multitude of health specialties and across the world. Exploring mHealth user experiences can aid in understanding how and why an intervention was successful. The Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) was a free maternal mHealth SMS text messaging service that was offered to pregnant women in Johannesburg, South Africa, with the goal of improving maternal, fetal, and infant health outcomes. We conducted focus group discussions with MAMA users to learn about their experiences with the program. Objective: The aim of this qualitative study was to gather opinions of participants of the MAMA maternal mHealth service regarding health care atmosphere, intervention use, and intervention feedback. Methods: Prenatal and postnatal women (N=15) from public antenatal and postnatal care sites in central Johannesburg who were receiving free maternal health text messages (MAMA) participated in 3 focus group discussions. Predefined discussion topics included personal background, health care system experiences, MAMA program recruitment, acceptability, participant experiences, and feedback. Results: The feedback regarding experiences with the health system were comprised of a few reports of positive experiences and many more reports of negative experiences such as long wait times, understaffed facilities, and poor service. Overall acceptability for the maternal text message intervention was high. Participants reflected that the messages were timely, written clearly, and felt supportive. Participants also reported sharing messages with friends and family. Conclusions: These findings suggest that maternal mHealth interventions delivered through text messages can provide timely, relevant, useful, and supportive information to pregnant women and new mothers especially in settings where there may be mistrust of the health care system.

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  • Emotional Reactions to a Mental Health Chatbot Among Adolescents: An Experimental Study

    Date Submitted: Sep 16, 2020

    Open Peer Review Period: Sep 15, 2020 - Sep 29, 2020

    Background: Psychological distress increases across adolescence and has been associated with a number of important health outcomes, with consequences that can extend into adulthood. One type of techno...

    Background: Psychological distress increases across adolescence and has been associated with a number of important health outcomes, with consequences that can extend into adulthood. One type of technological innovation that may serve as a unique intervention for youth experiencing psychological distress is the conversational agent (CA), otherwise known as a chatbot. Further research is needed on mental health chatbots - notably those designed for adolescents. The experimental mental health chatbot used in this study was designed to support adolescents experiencing psychological distress. Objective: The current study aimed to assess adolescents’ perceived emotional reactions to questions posed by a mental health chatbot and to evaluate adolescents’ preferences concerning the formulation of the chatbot’s questions. Methods: We recruited 21 adolescents aged 14 to 17 to participate in a pilot study with a 2x2x3 within-subjects factorial design. Each participant was sequentially presented with 96 chatbot questions for a duration of eight seconds per question. Following each presentation, participants were asked to indicate how likely they were to respond to the question, as well as their perceived affective reaction to the question. Demographic data and participant feedback were also collected. Results: Participants were an average of 15.4 years old (SD 1.05) and mostly female (60%; 12 females; 8 males). Logistic regressions showed that presence of GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format) predicted perceived emotional valence (β = -.40; P < .001), such that questions without GIFs were associated with a lower perceived emotional valence. Question type predicted emotional valence, such that yes/no questions (β = -.23; P = .03) and open-ended questions (β = -.26; P = .01) were associated with a lower perceived emotional valence compared to multiple response choice questions. Question type also predicted likelihood of response, such that yes/no questions were associated with a lower likelihood of response compared to multiple response choice questions (β = -.24; P = .03) and a higher likelihood of response compared to open-ended questions (β = .54; P < .001). Conclusions: The findings of this study add to the rapidly growing field of teen-computer interaction and contribute to our understanding of adolescent user experience in their interactions with a mental health chatbot. The insights gained from this study may be of assistance to developers and designers of mental health chatbots.