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Preview: Journal of Medical Internet Research

Journal of Medical Internet Research

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


Figure Caption Correction: Characteristics of Articles About Human Papillomavirus Vaccination in Japanese Newspapers: Time-Series Analysis Study


Media coverage and reports have a major influence on individual vaccination and other health-related activities. People use the media to seek information and knowledge on health-related behaviors. They obtain health-related information from media such as television and newspapers, and they trust such information. While several studies have examined the relation between media coverage and individual health, there is a lack of studies that have analyzed media reports of health information. In particular, we have found no analyses related to cervical cancer (human papillomavirus [HPV]) vaccine. This study aimed to identify mentions of cervical cancer vaccine in Japan’s printed news media and to determine their characteristics. We used the archival databases of 2 Japanese newspapers, Yomiuri Shimbun (Yomidasu Rekishikan) and Asahi Shimbun (Kikuzo II Visual), for text mining. First, we created a database by extracting articles published between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2014, that matched the terms “cervical cancer” AND “vaccination” in a keyword search. Then, we tallied the extracted articles based on the month of publication and number of characters in order to conduct a time-series analysis. We extracted a total of 219 articles. Of these, 154 (70.3%) were positive and 51 (23.3%) were negative toward HPV vaccination. Of the 51 negative articles, 4 (7.8%) were published before June 2013, when routine vaccination was temporarily discontinued due to concerns regarding side effects, and 47 (92.2%) were published since then. The negative reports commonly cited side effects, although prior to June 2013, these issues were hardly mentioned. Although foreign media reports mentioned side effects before routine vaccination was temporarily discontinued, fewer articles mentioned side effects than recommendations for vaccination. Furthermore, on June 13, 2013, the World Health Organization’s advisory body Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety issued a statement regarding the safety of HPV vaccines, but hardly any articles reported this statement. Rather, several articles were published about the side effects after June 2013. Since we consider media coverage to be a factor affecting human health behavior, the media should extensively report on the cost of not receiving cervical cancer vaccination, global trends concerning cervical cancer vaccination, and statements released by various agencies on the subject. (image)

A Mobile App to Improve Self-Management of Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes: Qualitative Realist Evaluation


Background: The increasing use of Web-based solutions for health prevention and promotion presents opportunities to improve self-management and adherence to guideline-based therapy for individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Despite promising preliminary evidence, many users stop using Web-based solutions due to the burden of data entry, hidden costs, loss of interest, and a lack of comprehensive features. Evaluations tend to focus on effectiveness or impact and fail to evaluate the nuanced variables that may interact to contribute to outcome success (or failure). Objective: This study aimed to evaluate a Web-based solution for improving self-management in T2DM to identify key combinations of contextual variables and mechanisms of action that explain for whom the solution worked best and in what circumstances. Methods: A qualitative realist evaluation was conducted with one-on-one, semistructured telephonic interviews completed at baseline, and again toward the end of the intervention period (3 months). Topics included participants’ experiences of using the Web-based solution, barriers and facilitators of self-management, and barriers and facilitators to effective use. Transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis strategies, after which the key themes were used to develop statements of the relationships between the key contextual factors, mechanisms of action, and impact on the primary outcome (glycated hemoglobin, HbA1c). Results: Twenty-six interviews (14 baseline, 12 follow-up) were completed with 16 participants with T2DM, and the following 3 key groups emerged: the easiest fit, the best fit, and those who failed to activate. Self-efficacy and willingness to engage with the solution facilitated improvement in HbA1c, whereas competing priorities and psychosocial issues created barriers to engagement. Individuals with high baseline self-efficacy who were motivated, took ownership for their actions, and prioritized diabetes management were early and eager adopters of the app and recorded improvements in HbA1c over the intervention period. Individuals with moderate baseline self-efficacy and no competing priorities, who identified gaps in understanding of how their actions influence their health, were slow to adopt use but recorded the greatest improvements in HbA1c. The final group had low baseline self-efficacy and identified a range of psychosocial issues and competing priorities. These participants were uncertain of the benefits of using a Web-based solution to support self-management, ultimately resulting in minimal engagement and no improvement in HbA1c. Conclusions: Self-efficacy, competing priorities, previous behavior change, and beliefs about Web-based solutions interact to determine engagement and impact on the clinical outcomes. Considering the balance of these patient characteristics is likely to help health care providers identify individuals who are apt to benefit from a Web-based solution to support self-management of T2DM. Web-based solutions could be modified to incorporate the existing screening measures to identify individuals who are at risk of suboptimal adherence to inform the provision of additional support(s) as needed. (image)

Treatment Activity, User Satisfaction, and Experienced Usability of Internet-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Adults With Depression and Anxiety After a Myocardial Infarction: Mixed-Methods Study


Background: Knowledge about user experiences may lead to insights about how to improve treatment activity in Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety among people with a somatic disease. There is a need for studies conducted alongside randomized trials, to explore treatment activity and user experiences related to such interventions, especially among people with older age who are recruited in routine care. Objective: The aim of the study was to explore treatment activity, user satisfaction, and usability experiences among patients allocated to treatment in the U-CARE Heart study, a randomized clinical trial of an iCBT intervention for treatment of depression and anxiety following a recent myocardial infarction. Methods: This was a mixed methods study where quantitative and qualitative approaches were used. Patients were recruited consecutively from 25 cardiac clinics in Sweden. The study included 117 patients allocated to 14 weeks of an iCBT intervention in the U-CARE Heart study. Quantitative data about treatment activity and therapist communication were collected through logged user patterns, which were analyzed with descriptive statistics. Qualitative data with regard to positive and negative experiences, and suggestions for improvements concerning the intervention, were collected through semistructured interviews with 21 patients in the treatment arm after follow-up. The interviews were analyzed with qualitative manifest content analysis. Results: Treatment activity was low with regard to number of completed modules (mean 0.76, SD 0.93, range 0-5) and completed assignments (mean 3.09, SD 4.05, range 0-29). Most of the participants initiated the introduction module (113/117, 96.6%), and about half (63/117, 53.9%) of all participants completed the introductory module, but only 18 (15.4%, 18/117) continued to work with any of the remaining 10 modules, and each of the remaining modules was completed by 7 or less of the participants. On average, patients sent less than 2 internal messages to their therapist during the intervention (mean 1.42, SD 2.56, range 0-16). Interviews revealed different preferences with regard to the internet-based portal, the content of the treatment program, and the therapist communication. Aspects related to the personal situation and required skills included unpleasant emotions evoked by the intervention, lack of time, and technical difficulties. Conclusions: Patients with a recent myocardial infarction and symptoms of depression and anxiety showed low treatment activity in this guided iCBT intervention with regard to completed modules, completed assignments, and internal messages sent to their therapist. The findings call attention to the need for researchers to carefully consider the preferences, personal situation, and technical skills of the end users during the development of these interventions. The study indicates several challenges that need to be addressed to improve treatment activity, user satisfaction, and usability in internet-based interventions in this population. (image)

Detection of Cases of Noncompliance to Drug Treatment in Patient Forum Posts: Topic Model Approach


Background: Medication nonadherence is a major impediment to the management of many health conditions. A better understanding of the factors underlying noncompliance to treatment may help health professionals to address it. Patients use peer-to-peer virtual communities and social media to share their experiences regarding their treatments and diseases. Using topic models makes it possible to model themes present in a collection of posts, thus to identify cases of noncompliance. Objective: The aim of this study was to detect messages describing patients’ noncompliant behaviors associated with a drug of interest. Thus, the objective was the clustering of posts featuring a homogeneous vocabulary related to nonadherent attitudes. Methods: We focused on escitalopram and aripiprazole used to treat depression and psychotic conditions, respectively. We implemented a probabilistic topic model to identify the topics that occurred in a corpus of messages mentioning these drugs, posted from 2004 to 2013 on three of the most popular French forums. Data were collected using a Web crawler designed by Kappa Santé as part of the Detec’t project to analyze social media for drug safety. Several topics were related to noncompliance to treatment. Results: Starting from a corpus of 3650 posts related to an antidepressant drug (escitalopram) and 2164 posts related to an antipsychotic drug (aripiprazole), the use of latent Dirichlet allocation allowed us to model several themes, including interruptions of treatment and changes in dosage. The topic model approach detected cases of noncompliance behaviors with a recall of 98.5% (272/276) and a precision of 32.6% (272/844). Conclusions: Topic models enabled us to explore patients’ discussions on community websites and to identify posts related with noncompliant behaviors. After a manual review of the messages in the noncompliance topics, we found that noncompliance to treatment was present in 6.17% (276/4469) of the posts. (image)

Expert Coaching in Weight Loss: Retrospective Analysis


Background: Providing coaches as part of a weight management program is a common practice to increase participant engagement and weight loss success. Understanding coach and participant interactions and how these interactions impact weight loss success needs to be further explored for coaching best practices. Objective: The purpose of this study was to analyze the coach and participant interaction in a 6-month weight loss intervention administered by Retrofit, a personalized weight management and Web-based disease prevention solution. The study specifically examined the association between different methods of coach-participant interaction and weight loss and tried to understand the level of coaching impact on weight loss outcome. Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed using 1432 participants enrolled from 2011 to 2016 in the Retrofit weight loss program. Participants were males and females aged 18 years or older with a baseline body mass index of ≥25 kg/m², who also provided at least one weight measurement beyond baseline. First, a detailed analysis of different coach-participant interaction was performed using both intent-to-treat and completer populations. Next, a multiple regression analysis was performed using all measures associated with coach-participant interactions involving expert coaching sessions, live weekly expert-led Web-based classes, and electronic messaging and feedback. Finally, 3 significant predictors (P<.001) were analyzed in depth to reveal the impact on weight loss outcome. Results: Participants in the Retrofit weight loss program lost a mean 5.14% (SE 0.14) of their baseline weight, with 44% (SE 0.01) of participants losing at least 5% of their baseline weight. Multiple regression model (R2=.158, P<.001) identified the following top 3 measures as significant predictors of weight loss at 6 months: expert coaching session attendance (P<.001), live weekly Web-based class attendance (P<.001), and food log feedback days per week (P<.001). Attending 80% of expert coaching sessions, attending 60% of live weekly Web-based classes, and receiving a minimum of 1 food log feedback day per week were associated with clinically significant weight loss. Conclusions: Participant’s one-on-one expert coaching session attendance, live weekly expert-led interactive Web-based class attendance, and the number of food log feedback days per week from expert coach were significant predictors of weight loss in a 6-month intervention. (image)

Evolution of Electronic Cigarette Brands From 2013-2014 to 2016-2017: Analysis of Brand Websites


Background: The electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) industry has grown in size and organizational complexity in recent years, most notably with the entry of major tobacco companies in 2012 and the proliferation of vape shops. Many brands maintain retail websites that present e-cigarette marketing claims and sell directly to consumers. Understanding of the evolving composition of different types of e-cigarette brand websites is currently underdeveloped. Objective: This paper presents how e-cigarette brand websites surveyed in 2013-2014 evolved by 2016-2017, and how the websites run by different types of e-cigarette producers currently differ. Methods: In 2016-2017, we revisited 466 e-cigarette brand websites surveyed in 2013-2014, 288 of which were extant, and identified 145 new English-language websites. We compared product designs, marketing claims, and age-based warnings presented by types of e-cigarette producers: major tobacco companies, independent vape shops, and independent internet-only companies. Results: Among the 433 websites examined in 2016-2017, 12 were owned by major tobacco companies, 162 operated a physical vape shop, and 259 were internet-only operations. Closed-system product designs were sold by 83% (10/12) of tobacco-owned brands. In comparison, 29.0% (47/162, P<.001) of vape shop and 55.2% (143/259, P=.06) of internet-only brands sold closed-system designs. Compared with vape shop and internet-only brands, tobacco-owned brands offered a smaller set of product models (P values <.001) and a narrower range of flavors (P values <.01), with greater emphasis on the traditional combustible cigarette flavors of tobacco and menthol (P values <.001). Tobacco-owned brands also offered a narrower range of nicotine options than the vape shops (P=.002) and were less likely to offer nicotine-free e-liquid compared with internet-only and vape shop brands (P values <.001). Finally, 83% (10/12) of tobacco-owned brand websites featured age verification pop-up windows. In comparison, only 50.2% (130/259) of internet-only brands (P=.01) and 60.5% (98/162) of vape shop brands (P=.06) featured age verification windows. Websites surveyed in both 2013-2014 and 2016-2017 became more likely to sell open-system mods (P<.001) and sold an increased number of product models (P<.001), flavors (P<.001), and nicotine options (P<.001). Prevalence of several types of claims decreased significantly, including indirect claims regarding smoking cessation (P<.001), claims regarding e-cigarettes as healthier (P<.001), less expensive (P<.001), and usable in more places (P<.001) compared with combustible cigarettes. Conclusions: The number of e-cigarette brands has not appeared to increase since 2014, even as website messaging evolved, with brands owned by tobacco companies and vape shops pulling in opposite directions. Brands owned by tobacco companies offered a limited range of e-cigarette products, whereas brands owned by vape shops emphasized a panoply of flavor and nicotine options. Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory action may influence the types of e-cigarette products offered and the market shares of various companies. (image)

Evaluating Patient Perspectives of Provider Professionalism on Twitter in an Academic Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic: Patient Survey


Background: One-third of Americans use social media websites as a source of health care information. Twitter, a microblogging site that allows users to place 280-character posts—or tweets—on the Web, is emerging as an important social media platform for health care. However, most guidelines on medical professionalism on social media are based on expert opinion. Objective: This study sought to examine if provider Twitter profiles with educational tweets were viewed as more professional than profiles with personal tweets or a mixture of the two, and to determine the impact of provider gender on perceptions of professionalism in an academic obstetrics and gynecology clinic. Methods: This study randomized obstetrics and gynecology patients at the University of Michigan Von Voigtlander Clinic to view one of six medical provider Twitter profiles, which differed in provider gender and the nature of tweets. Each participant answered 10 questions about their perception of the provider’s professionalism based on the Twitter profile content. Results: The provider profiles with educational tweets alone received higher mean professionalism scores than profiles with personal tweets. Specifically, the female and male provider profiles with exclusively educational tweets had the highest and second highest overall mean professionalism ratings at 4.24 and 3.85, respectively. In addition, the female provider profiles received higher mean professionalism ratings than male provider profiles with the same content. The female profile with mixed content received a mean professionalism rating of 3.38 compared to 3.24 for the male mixed-content profile, and the female profile with only personal content received a mean professionalism rating of 3.68 compared to 2.68 for the exclusively personal male provider profile. Conclusions: This study showed that in our obstetrics and gynecology clinic, patients perceived providers with educational profiles as more professional than those with a mixture of educational and personal tweets or only personal tweets. It also showed that our patient population perceived the female provider with educational tweets to be the most professional. This study will help inform the development of evidence-based guidelines for social media use in medicine as it adds to the growing body of literature examining professionalism and social media. (image)

Ethical Concerns of and Risk Mitigation Strategies for Crowdsourcing Contests and Innovation Challenges: Scoping Review


Background: Crowdsourcing contests (also called innovation challenges, innovation contests, and inducement prize contests) can be used to solicit multisectoral feedback on health programs and design public health campaigns. They consist of organizing a steering committee, soliciting contributions, engaging the community, judging contributions, recognizing a subset of contributors, and sharing with the community. Objective: This scoping review describes crowdsourcing contests by stage, examines ethical problems at each stage, and proposes potential ways of mitigating risk. Methods: Our analysis was anchored in the specific example of a crowdsourcing contest that our team organized to solicit videos promoting condom use in China. The purpose of this contest was to create compelling 1-min videos to promote condom use. We used a scoping review to examine the existing ethical literature on crowdsourcing to help identify and frame ethical concerns at each stage. Results: Crowdsourcing has a group of individuals solve a problem and then share the solution with the public. Crowdsourcing contests provide an opportunity for community engagement at each stage: organizing, soliciting, promoting, judging, recognizing, and sharing. Crowdsourcing poses several ethical concerns: organizing—potential for excluding community voices; soliciting—potential for overly narrow participation; promoting—potential for divulging confidential information; judging—potential for biased evaluation; recognizing—potential for insufficient recognition of the finalist; and sharing—potential for the solution to not be implemented or widely disseminated. Conclusions: Crowdsourcing contests can be effective and engaging public health tools but also introduce potential ethical problems. We present methods for the responsible conduct of crowdsourcing contests. (image)

Internet-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety Among Patients With a Recent Myocardial Infarction: The U-CARE Heart Randomized Controlled Trial


Background: Symptoms of depression and anxiety are common after a myocardial infarction (MI). Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) has shown good results in other patient groups. Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of an iCBT treatment to reduce self-reported symptoms of depression and anxiety among patients with a recent MI. Methods: In total, 3928 patients were screened for eligibility in 25 Swedish hospitals. Of these, 239 patients (33.5%, 80/239 women, mean age 60 years) with a recent MI and symptoms of depression or anxiety were randomly allocated to a therapist-guided, 14-week iCBT treatment (n=117), or treatment as usual (TAU; n=122). The iCBT treatment was designed for post-MI patients. The primary outcome was the total score of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) 14 weeks post baseline, assessed over the internet. Treatment effect was evaluated according to the intention-to-treat principle, with multiple imputations. For the main analysis, a pooled treatment effect was estimated, controlling for age, sex, and baseline HADS. Results: There was a reduction in HADS scores over time in the total study sample (mean delta=−5.1, P<.001) but no difference between the study groups at follow-up (beta=−0.47, 95% CI −1.95 to 1.00, P=.53). Treatment adherence was low. A total of 46.2% (54/117) of the iCBT group did not complete the introductory module. Conclusions: iCBT treatment for an MI population did not result in lower levels of symptoms of depression or anxiety compared with TAU. Low treatment adherence might have influenced the result. Trial Registration: NCT01504191; (Archived at Webcite at (image)

Patient Centeredness in Electronic Communication: Evaluation of Patient-to-Health Care Team Secure Messaging


Background: As information and communication technology is becoming more widely implemented across health care organizations, patient-provider email or asynchronous electronic secure messaging has the potential to support patient-centered communication. Within the medical home model of the Veterans Health Administration (VA), secure messaging is envisioned as a means to enhance access and strengthen the relationships between veterans and their health care team members. However, despite previous studies that have examined the content of electronic messages exchanged between patients and health care providers, less research has focused on the socioemotional aspects of the communication enacted through those messages. Objective: Recognizing the potential of secure messaging to facilitate the goals of patient-centered care, the objectives of this analysis were to not only understand why patients and health care team members exchange secure messages but also to examine the socioemotional tone engendered in these messages. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional coding evaluation of a corpus of secure messages exchanged between patients and health care team members over 6 months at 8 VA facilities. We identified patients whose medical records showed secure messaging threads containing at least 2 messages and compiled a random sample of these threads. Drawing on previous literature regarding the analysis of asynchronous, patient-provider electronic communication, we developed a coding scheme comprising a series of a priori patient and health care team member codes. Three team members tested the scheme on a subset of the messages and then independently coded the sample of messaging threads. Results: Of the 711 messages coded from the 384 messaging threads, 52.5% (373/711) were sent by patients and 47.5% (338/711) by health care team members. Patient and health care team member messages included logistical content (82.6%, 308/373 vs 89.1%, 301/338), were neutral in tone (70.2%, 262/373 vs 82.0%, 277/338), and respectful in nature (25.7%, 96/373 vs 33.4%, 113/338). Secure messages from health care team members sometimes appeared hurried (25.4%, 86/338) but also displayed friendliness or warmth (18.9%, 64/338) and reassurance or encouragement (18.6%, 63/338). Most patient messages involved either providing or seeking information; however, the majority of health care team member messages involved information provision in response to patient questions. Conclusions: This evaluation is an important step toward understanding the content and socioemotional tone that is part of the secure messaging exchanges between patients and health care team members. Our findings were encouraging; however, there are opportunities for improvement. As health care organizations seek to supplement traditional encounters with virtual care, they must reexamine their use of secure messaging, including the patient centeredness of the communication, and the potential for more proactive use by health care team members. (image)