Call for Papers: Theme Issue: The Human Factors of the COVID-19 Outbreak

How we understand and cope with a global pandemic, such as the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19),  encompasses a range of human factors that critically determine how the outbreak evolves over time. These include aspects related to the human understanding of health information made available to the public about pandemics, issues on health and eHealth literacy, and the ability of individuals and the public as a whole to assimilate, understand, and act on the findings and recommendations of governments and the scientific community, as well as training and workflow issues in health care institutions and public health agencies. Such human factors may include many key organizational and political aspects of pandemics that affect the course of a pandemic regionally as well as internationally. In addition, there are a range of technological innovations designed to support public health initiatives during pandemics, but they will only be successful if they are usable and provide useful information.

An understanding of human factors is critical for improving the widespread usefulness, adoption, and integration of health information technologies used in pandemic surveillance, planning, and mitigation. For example, an improved understanding of the usability of public health information systems (e.g., public health surveillance and tracking systems) is essential for designing, testing, and deploying effective information technologies to help health professionals, public health officers, and the general population deal with and survive pandemics. Furthermore, clarifying the relation between the public’s understanding of COVID-19 and their behavior during the pandemic will be essential.

In this special issue on the human factors of the outbreak, we are soliciting papers that deal with human factors relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Human factors of public health information systems, surveillance systems, tracking tools, apps, and other innovations used to support the fight against COVID-19
  • Human factors involved in integrating different sources and types of public health information to deal with the pandemic
  • Human factors issues involved in effectively communicating information to the public in an accessible and understandable way
  • Cognitive aspects of lay persons’ understanding of key information about the pandemic
  • Characterizing the interactions between laypersons’ understanding of the virus and their behavior/actions taken during the epidemic
  • The reporting and visualization of public health information relevant to pandemic outbreaks such as COVID-19
  • The organization and communication of information to varied stakeholders (e.g., the government, scientific community, health care organizations and professionals, and the public)
  • Design of user interfaces for supporting a more effective understanding and response to the pandemic
  • Human aspects of innovative technologies for dealing with the pandemic, such as contact tracking, data analysis, visualization, and pandemic reporting
  • Comparison of approaches for use of technology across regions and countries from a human factors perspective
  • Barriers and facilitators of innovative technologies from a human factors perspective (e.g., usability, cultural, and ethical issues)
  • Human factors and usability of virtual tools, systems, and apps designed for use in the pandemic by health professionals and the public
  • Workflow and process management of surveillance, testing and health care provision

Other JMIR journals are also soliciting COVID-19 papers  which will be prioritized for peer review and publication. As with all JMIR journals, fast-tracking is also available for even faster decisions. 

All articles submitted to this theme issue will be shared and published rapidly through the following mechanisms:

JMIR Preprints  (example ) are immediately available after submission (with DOI); authors should select the preprint option on submission. Preprints already submitted to MedRxiv can be transmitted to JMH via the M2J interface 

  • Free “PubMed Now!” feature, ensuring that the paper is submitted to and searchable on PubMed within 24 hours after acceptance (fees are waived)
  • All peer-reviewed research publications in this theme issue are immediately and permanently made open access—this is of course the standard for JMIR journals
  • Special tagging of the XML of the published paper for priority release on PubMed Central (in collaboration with NCBI)

Questions regarding this Theme Issue should be directed to JHF Editor-in-Chief, Andre Kushniruk, BA, MSc, PhD, FACMI, or the editorial team at

How to submit

Please submit to JMIR Human Factors by selecting "Theme Issue: Human Factors of the COVID-19 Outbreak” in the "Section" drop-down list.

See also “How do I submit to a theme issue?” in our knowledge base.