JMIR Publications

Interactive Journal of Medical Research

A general medical journal, focusing on innovation in health and medical research


Journal Description

i-JMR is a general medical journal with a focus on innovation in health, health care, and medicine - through new medical techniques and innovative ideas and/or research, including - but not limited to - technology, clinical informatics, or groundbreaking research.

Published by JMIR Publications, publisher of JMIR, the leading eHealth/mHealth journal (Impact Factor 2015: 4.532), i-JMR is a JMIR "sister journal" which features a rapid and thorough peer-review process, professional copyediting, professional production of PDF, XHTML, and XML proofs.

i-JMR is indexed in PubMed and archived in PubMed Central.

i-JMR is also indexed in Thomson Reuters new Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI) and has a projected impact factor (2015): 1.6.


Recent Articles:

  • Patient education. Image taken by Jason Johnson at Southern Illinois University, Department of Public Affairs. Permission to use granted to JMIR Publications. Image source:

    Evaluating YouTube as a Source of Patient Education on the Role of the Hospitalist: A Cross-Sectional Study


    Background: Hospital medicine is a relatively new specialty field, dedicated to the delivery of comprehensive medical care to hospitalized patients. YouTube is one of the most frequently used websites, offering access to a gamut of videos from self-produced to professionally made. Objective: The aim of our study was to determine the adequacy of YouTube as an effective means to define and depict the role of hospitalists. Methods: YouTube was searched on November 17, 2014, using the following search words: “hospitalist,” “hospitalist definition,” “what is the role of a hospitalist,” “define hospitalist,” and “who is a hospitalist.” Videos found only in the first 10 pages of each search were included. Non-English, noneducational, and nonrelevant videos were excluded. A novel 7-point scoring tool was created by the authors based on the definition of a hospitalist adopted by the Society of Hospital Medicine. Three independent reviewers evaluated, scored, and classified the videos into high, intermediate, and low quality based on the average score. Results: A total of 102 videos out of 855 were identified as relevant and included in the analysis. Videos uploaded by academic institutions had the highest mean score. Only 6 videos were classified as high quality, 53 as intermediate quality, and 42 as low quality, with 82.4% (84/102) of the videos scoring an average of 4 or less. Conclusions: Most videos found in the search of a hospitalist definition are inadequate. Leading medical organizations and academic institutions should consider producing and uploading quality videos to YouTube to help patients and their families better understand the roles and definition of the hospitalist.

  • Online Health Information. Image sourced and copyright owned by authors.

    Online Health Information Regarding Male Infertility: An Evaluation of Readability, Suitability, and Quality


    Background: Many men lack knowledge about male infertility, and this may have consequences for their reproductive and general health. Men may prefer to seek health information online, but these sources of information vary in quality. Objective: The objective of this study is to determine if online sources of information regarding male infertility are readable, suitable, and of appropriate quality for Internet users in the general population. Methods: This study used a cross-sectional design to evaluate online sources resulting from search engine queries. The following categories of websites were considered: (1) Canadian fertility clinics, (2) North American organizations related to fertility, and (3) the first 20 results of Google searches using the terms “male infertility” and “male fertility preservation” set to the search locations worldwide, English Canada, and French Canada. Websites that met inclusion criteria (N=85) were assessed using readability indices, the Suitability Assessment of Materials (SAM), and the DISCERN tool. The associations between website affiliation (government, university/medical, non-profit organization, commercial/corporate, private practice) and Google placement to readability, suitability, and quality were also examined. Results: None of the sampled websites met recommended levels of readability. Across all websites, the mean SAM score for suitability was 45.37% (SD 11.21), or “adequate”, while the DISCERN mean score for quality was 43.19 (SD 10.46) or “fair”. Websites that placed higher in Google obtained a higher overall score for quality with an r (58) value of -.328 and a P value of .012, but this position was not related to readability or suitability. In addition, 20% of fertility clinic websites did not include fertility information for men. Conclusions: There is a lack of high quality online sources of information on male fertility. Many websites target their information to women, or fail to meet established readability criteria for the general population. Since men may prefer to seek health information online, it is important that health care professionals develop high quality sources of information on male fertility for the general population.

  • Source:; CC0 Public Domain.

    Japanese Consumer Perceptions of Genetically Modified Food: Findings From an International Comparative Study


    Background: Reports of food-related incidents, such as cows infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (2001) and the Fukushima nuclear accident (2011), engendered significant fear among Japanese consumers and led to multiple farmer suicides, even when no actual health damage occurred. The growing availability of genetically modified (GM) food is occurring against this backdrop of concern about food safety. Consumers need information to assess risk and make informed purchasing decisions. However, we lack a clear picture of Japanese consumer perceptions of GM food. Objective: This study aims to understand Japanese consumer perceptions of GM food for risk communication. Consumer perceptions of GM food were compared among 4 nations. Methods: A Web-based survey was conducted in Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. Participants were asked about demographics, fear of health hazards, resistance to GM and breeding-improved products, perception of GM technology and products, and willingness to pay. Multiple linear regression analyses were conducted, as were t tests on dichotomous variables, and 1-way analysis of variance and post hoc tests. Results: Of 1812 individuals who agreed to participate, 1705 (94%) responded: 457 from Japan and 416 each from France, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The male/female and age group ratios were all about even. Some resistance to GM food was seen in all countries in this study. France showed the strongest resistance (P<.001), followed by Japan, which had stronger resistance than the United States and the United Kingdom (P<.001). Overall, females, people in their 60s and older, and those without higher education showed the greatest resistance to GM food. Japan showed stronger fear of food hazards than other nations (P<.001, odds ratio=2.408, CI: 1.614-3.594); Japanese and French respondents showed the strongest fear of hazards from GM food (P<.001). Regarding perceptions of GM technology and products, consumers in nations other than Japan would accept GM food if it were appropriately explained, they were provided with scientific data supporting its safety, and they understood that all food carries some risk. However, Japanese consumers tended to accept GM technology but rejected its application to food (P<.001). Of those willing to purchase GM food, consumers in Japan required a discount of 30% compared with about 20% in other nations. Conclusion: All consumers in our study showed resistance to GM food. Although no health hazards are known, respondents in Japan and France strongly recognized GM food as a health risk. Price discounts of 30% and GM technology may be communication cues to start discussions about GM food among Japanese consumers. Although education-only risk communication generally is not effective, such an approach may work in Japan to help consumers better understand GM technology and, eventually, GM food. The gap between accepting GM technology and rejecting its application to food should be explored further.

  • Screenshot of ZIPSE (Information Portal about Rare Diseases). Source: Copyright held by authors.

    Adopting Quality Criteria for Websites Providing Medical Information About Rare Diseases


    Background: The European Union considers diseases to be rare when they affect less than 5 in 10,000 people. It is estimated that there are between 5000 and 8000 different rare diseases. Consistent with this diversity, the quality of information available on the Web varies considerably. Thus, quality criteria for websites about rare diseases are needed. Objective: The objective of this study was to generate a catalog of quality criteria suitable for rare diseases. Methods: First, relevant certificates and quality recommendations for health information websites were identified through a comprehensive Web search. Second, all considered quality criteria of each certification program and catalog were examined, extracted into an overview table, and analyzed by thematic content. Finally, an interdisciplinary expert group verified the relevant quality criteria. Results: We identified 9 quality certificates and criteria catalogs for health information websites with 304 single criteria items. Through this, we aggregated 163 various quality criteria, each assigned to one of the following categories: thematic, technical, service, content, and legal. Finally, a consensus about 13 quality criteria for websites offering medical information on rare diseases was determined. Of these categories, 4 (data protection concept, imprint, creation and updating date, and possibility to contact the website provider) were identified as being the most important for publishing medical information about rare diseases. Conclusions: The large number of different quality criteria appearing within a relatively small number of criteria catalogs shows that the opinion of what is important in the quality of health information differs. In addition, to define useful quality criteria for websites about rare diseases, which are an essential source of information for many patients, a trade-off is necessary between the high standard of quality criteria for health information websites in general and the limited provision of information about some rare diseases. Finally, transparently presented quality assessments can help people to find reliable information and to assess its quality.

  • Source:, Licence to use held by Macquarie University.

    Evaluation of Web-Based Consumer Medication Information: Content and Usability of 4 Australian Websites


    Background: Medication is the most common intervention in health care, and written medication information can affect consumers’ medication-related behavior. Research has shown that a large proportion of Australians search for medication information on the Internet. Objective: To evaluate the medication information content, based on consumer medication information needs, and usability of 4 Australian health websites: Better Health Channel, myDr, healthdirect, and NPS MedicineWise . Methods: To assess website content, the most common consumer medication information needs were identified using (1) medication queries to the healthdirect helpline (a telephone helpline available across most of Australia) and (2) the most frequently used medications in Australia. The most frequently used medications were extracted from Australian government statistics on use of subsidized medicines in the community and the National Census of Medicines Use. Each website was assessed to determine whether it covered or partially covered information and advice about these medications. To assess website usability, 16 consumers participated in user testing wherein they were required to locate 2 pieces of medication information on each website. Brief semistructured interviews were also conducted with participants to gauge their opinions of the websites. Results: Information on prescription medication was more comprehensively covered on all websites (3 of 4 websites covered 100% of information) than nonprescription medication (websites covered 0%-67% of information). Most websites relied on consumer medicines information leaflets to convey prescription medication information to consumers. Information about prescription medication classes was less comprehensive, with no website providing all information examined about antibiotics and antidepressants. Participants (n=16) were able to locate medication information on websites in most cases (accuracy ranged from 84% to 91%). However, a number of usability issues relating to website navigation and information display were identified. For example, websites not allowing combinations of search terms to be entered in search boxes and continuous blocks of text without subheadings. Conclusions: Of the 4 Australian health information websites tested, none provided consumers with comprehensive medication information on both prescription and nonprescription medications in a user-friendly way. Using data on consumer information needs and user testing to guide medication information content and website design is a useful approach to inform consumer website development.

  • Tacuina sanitatis (XIV century). Source:,_medicine,Taccuino_Sanitatis,.jpg; Public Domain.

    Internet Use for Searching Information on Medicines and Disease: A Community Pharmacy–Based Survey Among Adult Pharmacy Customers


    Background: The Internet is increasingly used as a source of health-related information, and a vast majority of Internet users are performing health-related searches in the United States and Europe, with wide differences among countries. Health information searching behavior on the Internet is affected by multiple factors, including demographics, socioeconomic factors, education, employment, attitudes toward the Internet, and health conditions, and their knowledge may help to promote a safer use of the Internet. Limited information however exists so far about Internet use to search for medical information in Italy. Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the use of the Internet for searching for information on medicines and disease in adult subjects in Northern Italy. Methods: Survey in randomly selected community pharmacies, using a self-administered questionnaire, with open and multiple choices questions, was conducted. Results: A total of 1008 participants were enrolled (59.5% women; median age: 43 years; range: 14-88 years). Previous use of the Internet to search for information about medicines or dietary supplements was reported by 26.0% of respondents, more commonly by women (30.00% vs 20.10% men, P<.001), unmarried subjects (32.9% vs 17.4% widowed subjects, P=.022), and employed people (29.1% vs 10.4% retired people, P=.002). Use was highest in the age range of 26 to 35 (40.0% users vs 19.6% and 12.3% in the age range ≤25 and ≥56, respectively, P<.001) and increased with years of education (from 5.3% with 5 years, up to 41.0% with a university degree, P<.001). Previous use of the Internet to search for information about disease was reported by 59.1% of respondents, more commonly by women (64.5% vs 51.0% males, P<.001), unmarried subjects (64.2% vs 58.5% married or divorced subjects and 30.4% widowed subjects, P=.012), unemployed people (66.7% vs 64.0% workers and 29.9% retired people, P<.001). Use was highest in the age range of 26 to 35 (70.1% vs 64.4% in both 36-45 and 46-55 ranges and 35.1% in ≥56, P<.001) and increased with years of education (from 12.5% with 5 years up to 66.7% with 13 years and 68.6% with a university degree, P<.001). Retrieved information was rated as satisfactory by about 87.5% (88.1% women and 86.2% men, P=.562). Recent use of medicines or dietary supplements was associated with more frequent use of the Internet to search for disease and drugs. Conclusions: The study provides detailed information on the use of the Internet for searching for information on medicines and disease in the Italian population. Gender, age, social status and level of education, and the previous use of medicines, affect searching behaviors and use patterns. Results can support educational interventions to promote the retrieval of high-quality information by Internet users and health professionals advising patients about appropriate use of Internet for health-related purposes.

  • Image Source: Jean's Bionic Knee, copyright Dave Haygarth,,
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution cc-by 2.0

    Relationship of Buckling and Knee Injury to Pain Exacerbation in Knee Osteoarthritis: A Web-Based Case-Crossover Study


    Background: Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most frequent causes of limited mobility and diminished quality of life. Pain is the main symptom that drives individuals with knee OA to seek medical care and a recognized antecedent to disability and eventually joint replacement. Evidence shows that patients with symptomatic OA experience fluctuations in pain severity. Mechanical insults to the knee such as injury and buckling may contribute to pain exacerbation. Objective: Our objective was to examine whether knee injury and buckling (giving way) are triggers for exacerbation of pain in persons with symptomatic knee OA. Methods: We conducted a case-crossover study, a novel methodology in which participants with symptomatic radiographic knee OA who have had knee pain exacerbations were used as their own control (self-matched design), with all data collected via the Internet. Participants were asked to log-on to the study website and complete an online questionnaire at baseline and then at regular 10-day intervals for 3 months (control periods)—a total of 10 questionnaires. They were also instructed to go to the website and complete pain exacerbation questionnaires when they experienced an isolated incident of knee pain exacerbation (case periods). A pain exacerbation “case” period was defined as an increase of ≥2 compared to baseline. At each contact the pain exacerbation was designated a case period, and at all other regular 10-day contacts (control periods) participants were asked about knee injuries during the previous 7 days and knee buckling during the previous 2 days. The relationship of knee injury and buckling to the risk of pain exacerbation was examined using conditional logistic regression models. Results: The analysis included 157 participants (66% women, mean age: 62 years, mean BMI: 29.5 kg/m2). Sustaining a knee injury was associated with experiencing a pain exacerbation (odds ratio [OR] 10.2, 95% CI 5.4, 19.3) compared with no injury. Knee buckling was associated with experiencing a pain exacerbation (OR 4.0, 95% CI 2.6, 6.2) compared with no buckling and the association increased with a greater number of buckling events (for ≥ 6 buckling events, OR 20.1, 95% CI 3.7, 110). Conclusions: Knee injury and buckling are associated with knee pain exacerbation. Reducing the likelihood of these mechanical events through avoidance of particular activities and/or appropriate rehabilitation programs may decrease the risk of pain exacerbation.

  • Source:; CC0 Public Domain.

    Relationship Between Difficulties in Daily Activities and Falling: Loco-Check as a Self-Assessment of Fall Risk


    Background: People aged 65 years or older accounted for 25.1% of the Japanese population in 2013, and this characterizes the country as a “super-aging society.” With increased aging, fall-related injuries are becoming important in Japan, because such injuries underlie the necessity for nursing care services. If people could evaluate their risk of falling using a simple self-check test, they would be able to take preventive measures such as exercise, muscle training, walking with a cane, or renovation of their surroundings to remove impediments. Loco-check is a checklist measure of early locomotive syndrome (circumstances in which elderly people need nursing care service or are at high risk of requiring the service within a short time), prepared by the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) in 2007, but it is unclear if there is any association between this measure and falls. Objective: To investigate the association between falls during the previous year and the 7 “loco-check” daily activity items and the total number of items endorsed, and sleep duration. Methods: We conducted an Internet panel survey. Subjects were 624 persons aged between 30 and 90 years. The general health condition of the participants, including their experience of falling, daily activities, and sleep duration, was investigated. A multivariate analysis was carried out using logistic regression to investigate the relationship between falls in the previous year and difficulties with specific daily activities and total number of difficulties (loco-check) endorsed, and sleep duration, adjusting for sex and age. Results: One-fourth of participants (157 persons) experienced at least one fall during the previous year. Fall rate of females (94/312: 30.1%) was significantly higher than that of males (63/312: 20.2%). Fall rate of persons aged more than 65 years (80/242: 33.1%) was significantly higher than that of younger persons (77/382: 20.2%). Logistic regression analysis revealed that daily activities such as “impossibility of getting across the road at a crossing before the traffic light changes” are significantly related to falling. Logistic regression analysis also demonstrated a relationship between the number of items endorsed on loco-check and incidence of falling, wherein persons who endorsed 4 or more items appear to be at higher risk for falls. However, logistic regression found no significant relationship between sleep duration and falling. Conclusions: Our study demonstrated a relationship between the number of loco-check items endorsed and the incidence of falling in the previous year. Endorsement of 4 or more items appeared to signal a high risk for falls. The short self-administered checklist can be a valuable tool for assessing the risk of falling and for initiating preventive measures.

  • Source:; CC-BY-2.0; Attribution: Sylvain Naudin.

    Quality of Web-based Information for the 10 Most Common Fractures


    Background: In today's technologically advanced world, 75% of patients have used Google to search for health information. As a result, health care professionals fear that patients may be misinformed. Currently, there is a paucity of data on the quality and readability of Web-based health information on fractures. Objectives: In this study, we assessed the quality and readability of Web-based health information related to the 10 most common fractures. Methods: Using the Google search engine, we assessed websites from the first results page for the 10 most common fractures using lay search terms. Website quality was measured using the DISCERN instrument, which scores websites as very poor (15-22.5), poor (22.5-37.5), fair (37.5-52.5), good (52.5-67.5), or excellent (67.5-75). The presence of Health on the Net code (HONcode) certification was assessed for all websites. Website readability was measured using the Flesch Reading Ease Score (0-100), where 60-69 is ideal for the general public, and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL; −3.4 to ∞), where the mean FKGL of the US adult population is 8. Results: Overall, website quality was “fair” for all fractures, with a mean (standard deviation) DISCERN score of 50.3 (5.8). The DISCERN score correlated positively with a higher website position on the search results page (r2=0.1, P=.002) and with HONcode certification (P=.007). The mean (standard deviation) Flesch Reading Ease Score and FKGL for all fractures were 62.2 (9.1) and 6.7 (1.6), respectively. Conclusion: The quality of Web-based health information on fracture care is fair, and its readability is appropriate for the general public. To obtain higher quality information, patients should select HONcode-certified websites. Furthermore, patients should select websites that are positioned higher on the results page because the Google ranking algorithms appear to rank the websites by quality.

  • Toddler playing. Image sourced and copyright owned by authors Meltem Dinleyici et al.

    Media Use by Children, and Parents’ Views on Children's Media Usage


    Background: New (mobile phones, smartphones, tablets, and social media) and traditional media (television) have come to dominate the lives of many children and adolescents. Despite all of this media time and new technology, many parents seem to have few rules regarding the use of media by their children and adolescents. Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate media access/use of children and to evaluate beliefs and attitudes of parents concerning the use of old and new media in Turkey. Methods: This is a cross-sectional electronic survey of a national convenience sample in Turkey via SurveyMonkey, including 41 questions regarding topics relevant to television, computers, mobile phones, iPad/tablet use, and social media accounts. Results: The responses of the 333 participants (238 women, 95 men; 27-63 years) were evaluated. The average daily watching alone time was 0 to 2 hours among 53.4% (46/86), and daily coviewing time with parents of children was 0 to 2 hours among 62.7% (54/86) of children below 2 years of age. Regarding parents’ monitoring their children’s computer use (n=178), 35.4% (63/178) of the parents prefer coviewing, 13.5% of the parents use a family filter (24/178), and 33.1% (59/178) of the parents prefer to check Web history. Approximately 71.2% (237/333) of the participants had an iPad/tablet in the house, 84.3% (200/333) of the parents give their children permission to use the iPad/tablet. Of the parents, 22.5% (45/200) noted that their children used the iPad/tablet at the table during lunch/dinner and 57.9% (26/45) of these children were aged 5 years and below. Of parents, 27.3% (91/333) agreed that the optimal age for owning a mobile phone was 12 years, and 18.0% (60/333) of the parents noted that their children (one-third was below 2 years) used the mobile phone at the table during meals. A total of 33.3% (111/333) children/adolescents have a Facebook profile, and 54.0% (60/111) were below 13 years of age. Approximately 89.2% (297/333) of the parents emphasized that the Internet is essential for their child’s education. Discussion: According to our study results, knowledge regarding the use of old and new media is limited among the parents in Turkey. Our study showed that screen time and mobile device use (including during meals) are common in children below 2 years of age, whereas no screen time was recommended for children below 2 years of age. We concluded that there is need for evidence-based guidelines regarding the use of the Internet and social media for parents and parents should ensure that there is a plan in place for the use of children’s media.

  • Image Source:; attribution: Dirk Marwede, Licensed under CC-By 2.0.

    eHealth Literacy: In the Quest of the Contributing Factors


    Background: Understanding the factors that influence eHealth in a country is particularly important for health policy decision makers and the health care market, as it provides critical information to develop targeted and tailored interventions for relevant patient–consumer segments, and further suggests appropriate strategies for training the health illiterate part of the population. Objective: The objective of the study is to assess the eHealth literacy level of Greek citizens, using the eHealth Literacy Scale (eHEALS), and further explore the factors that shape it and are associated with it. Methods: This empirical study relies on a unique sample of 1064 citizens in Greece in the year 2013. The participants were requested to answer various questions about their ability to solve health-related issues using the Internet, and to provide information about their demographic characteristics and life-style habits. Ordered logit models were used to describe a certain citizen’s likelihood of being eHealth literate. Results: The demographic factors show that the probability of an individual being eHealth literate decreases by 23% (P=.001) when the individual ages and increases by 53% (P<.001) when he or she acquires higher level of education. Among the life-style variables, physical exercise appears to be strongly and positively associated with the level of eHealth literacy (P=.001). Additionally, other types of technology literacies, such as computer literacy and information literacy, further enhance the eHealth performance of citizens and have the greatest impact among all factors. Conclusions: The factors influencing eHealth literacy are complex and interdependent. However, the Internet is a disruptive factor in the relationship between health provider and health consumer. Further research is needed to examine how several factors associate with eHealth literacy, since, the latter is not only related to health care outcomes but also can be a tool for disseminating social inequalities.

  • Source:; CC0 Public Domain; modified.

    Evaluating the Quality of Website Information of Private-Practice Clinics Offering Cell Therapies in Japan


    Background: Although the safety and effectiveness of stem cell therapies are yet to be proven, recent studies show that such therapies are being advertised with some questionable marketing techniques to effect positive portrayal of the therapies on the webpages of private-practice clinics to sell their therapies worldwide. In such context, those clinics communicate directly with consumers (patients and their family members) via the clinics’ websites. Meanwhile, the Health Science Council at the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) in Japan has pointed out noncompliance of some local clinics with the provisions concerning medical advertising in the Medical Care Act in the past. However, locally little is known about the current status of those clinics including the quality of their webpage information disseminated. Objective: To evaluate the quality of website information of private-practice clinics offering cell therapies in Japan. Methods: Twenty-four websites with 77 treatments from the Google search were identified for evaluation. The following three exploratory analyses were performed: first in order to ascertain web-based portrayal of private-practice clinics offering cell therapies, a descriptive analysis was conducted using a coding frame; second we evaluated the quality of the target website information from the viewpoint of the level of consideration taken for patients and their family members, using 10 quality criteria (“the Minimum Standard”) from the e-Health Code of Ethics 2.0; third we counted and coded expressions that matched set categories for “name-dropping” and “personalized medicine” in the information posted on these websites. Results: Analysis on the treatments (N=77) revealed 126 indications (multiple response): the top three indications were “cancer,” “skin-rejuvenation/antiaging/anti–skin aging,” and “breast augmentation/buttock augmentation.” As for the portrayal of treatment risks and benefits, 78% (60/77) of treatments were mentioned with “benefits,” whereas 77% (59/77) of treatments were mentioned with “risks.” As for the source(s) cited for the discussions of treatment risks and benefits, no treatment quoted an expert’s opinion for the risks, whereas 7% (6/77) treatments quoted external sources for the benefits. As for the results with e-Health Code of Ethics 2.0, not a single clinic fulfilled all the 10 criteria; 63% (15/24) of the clinics was found exercising “name-dropping,” and 21% (5/24) of the clinics mentioned expressions related to “personalized medicine” on their websites. Conclusions: Our website content analyses confirmed the following: (1) the clinics mentioned the risks or benefits of the treatments with hardly any scientific citations, (2) the way the website information was disseminated was inappropriate for patients and their families, and (3) many websites seemed to be using marketing techniques in order to draw patients’ interests or attentions. It is important that more similar studies are undertaken globally to enable an orchestrated regulatory approach toward private-practice clinics.

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  • sickleCAPTCHA - Design and Testing a Touch-based CAPTHCA for Monitoring and Analysis of Sickle Cell Anemia: A Comparative Study

    Date Submitted: Dec 13, 2016

    Open Peer Review Period: Dec 14, 2016 - Feb 8, 2017

    Background: Patients with Sickle Cell Anemia are monitored by scoring red blood cells according to their morphology in blood samples. Several image-processing algorithm for automated erythrocyte count...

    Background: Patients with Sickle Cell Anemia are monitored by scoring red blood cells according to their morphology in blood samples. Several image-processing algorithm for automated erythrocyte counts and morphological analysis in blood samples has been developed. However, overlapping, occluded, or grouped erythrocytes can generate erroneous results. We designed and tested an approach that users identify red blood cells with specific morphologies in the images through a touch-based CAPTCHA (sickleCAPTCHA). Objective: To answer three research questions: (1) Does sickleCAPTCHA allow the accurate analysis of red blood cells from sickle cell anemia patients (reliability)?, (2) is sickleCAPTCHA a valid system of access control (security)?, and (3) is sickleCAPTCHA appropriate for touch devices (adequacy)? Methods: We designed touch-based CAPTCHA to locate, count, and identify red blood cells in a microscopy blood sample image. We tested sickeCAPTCHA with 101 university students. We then compared the responses of participants to the sickleCAPTCHA tasks with expert classifications of images from erythrocytesIDB database (reliability). We also compared the results of applying an image-processing algorithm with the expert classifications, to determine to what extent verified tasks could be resolved automatically (security). We then conducted a usability test, comparing with reCAPTCHA, to determine the adequacy on touch devices. Results: With respect to reliability, participants correctly analyze the morphology of 100% clusters of red blood cells contained in erythrocytesIDB. About security, image-processing algorithm only classified correctly 0.7% of the clusters. Regarding adequacy, results show that resolving a sickleCAPTCHA, on average, is faster than reCAPTCHA (6.95 ± 3.92, P<.001, on touch devices). We also performed an ad-hoc power test to calculate the minimum sample size required (90 participants). Conclusions: The results confirmed that sickeCAPTCHA is suitable for use on touch devices, the resulting morphological analysis is reliable, and access control is safe. As future work, we plan to study whether this system is suitable for the analysis of other types of morphologies and to apply sickleCAPTCHA in a real environment with a large number of daily users.