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Journal Description

JMIR Public Health & Surveillance (JPHS, Editor-in-chief: Travis Sanchez, Emory University/Rollins School of Public Health) is a PubMed-indexed, peer-reviewed international multidisciplinary journal with a unique focus on the intersection of innovation and technology in public health, and includes topics like public health informatics, surveillance (surveillance systems and rapid reports), participatory epidemiology, infodemiology and infoveillance, digital disease detection, digital epidemiology, electronic public health interventions, mass media/social media campaigns, health communication, and emerging population health analysis systems and tools. 

JPHS has an international author- and readership and welcomes submissions from around the world.

We publish regular articles, reviews, protocols/system descriptions and viewpoint papers on all aspects of public health, with a focus on innovation and technology in public health. The main themes/topics covered by this journal can be found here.

Apart from publishing traditional public health research and viewpoint papers as well as reports from traditional surveillance systems, JPH was one of the first (if not the only) peer-reviewed journals to publish papers with surveillance or pharmacovigilance data from non-traditional, unstructured big data and text sources such as social media and the Internet (infoveillance, digital disease detection), or reports on novel participatory epidemiology projects, where observations are solicited from the public.  

Among other innovations, JPHS is also dedicated to support rapid open data sharing and rapid open access to surveillance and outbreak data. As one of the novel features we plan to publish rapid or even real-time surveillance reports and open data. The methods and description of the surveillance system may be peer-reviewed and published only once in detail, in a  "baseline report" (in a JMIR Res Protoc or a JMIR Public Health & Surveill paper), and authors then have the possibility to publish data and reports in frequent intervals rapidly and with only minimal additional peer-review (we call this article type "Rapid Surveillance Reports"). JMIR Publications may even work with authors/researchers and developers of selected surveillance systems on APIs for semi-automated reports (e.g. weekly reports to be automatically published in JPHS and indexed in PubMed, based on data-feeds from surveillance systems and minimal narratives and abstracts).

Furthermore, during epidemics and public health emergencies, submissions with critical data will be processed with expedited peer-review to enable publication within days or even in real-time.

We also publish descriptions of open data resources and open source software. Where possible, we can and want to publish or even host the actual software or dataset on the journal website.


Recent Articles:

  • Source: Adobe Stock Images; Copyright: guerrieroale; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Enhanced Safety Surveillance of Influenza Vaccines in General Practice, Winter 2015-16: Feasibility Study


    Background: The European Medicines Agency (EMA) requires vaccine manufacturers to conduct enhanced real-time surveillance of seasonal influenza vaccination. The EMA has specified a list of adverse events of interest to be monitored. The EMA sets out 3 different ways to conduct such surveillance: (1) active surveillance, (2) enhanced passive surveillance, or (3) electronic health record data mining (EHR-DM). English general practice (GP) is a suitable setting to implement enhanced passive surveillance and EHR-DM. Objective: This study aimed to test the feasibility of conducting enhanced passive surveillance in GP using the yellow card scheme (adverse events of interest reporting cards) to determine if it has any advantages over EHR-DM alone. Methods: A total of 9 GPs in England participated, of which 3 tested the feasibility of enhanced passive surveillance and the other 6 EHR-DM alone. The 3 that tested EPS provided patients with yellow (adverse events) cards for patients to report any adverse events. Data were extracted from all 9 GPs’ EHRs between weeks 35 and 49 (08/24/2015 to 12/06/2015), the main period of influenza vaccination. We conducted weekly analysis and end-of-study analyses. Results: Our GPs were largely distributed across England with a registered population of 81,040. In the week 49 report, 15,863/81,040 people (19.57% of the registered practice population) were vaccinated. In the EPS practices, staff managed to hand out the cards to 61.25% (4150/6776) of the vaccinees, and of these cards, 1.98% (82/4150) were returned to the GP offices. Adverse events of interests were reported by 113 /7223 people (1.56%) in the enhanced passive surveillance practices, compared with 322/8640 people (3.73%) in the EHR-DM practices. Conclusions: Overall, we demonstrated that GPs EHR-DM was an appropriate method of enhanced surveillance. However, the use of yellow cards, in enhanced passive surveillance practices, did not enhance the collection of adverse events of interests as demonstrated in this study. Their return rate was poor, data entry from them was not straightforward, and there were issues with data reconciliation. We concluded that customized cards prespecifying the EMA’s adverse events of interests, combined with EHR-DM, were needed to maximize data collection.

  • GHD/EMPHNET field visit to the Red Sea governorate for the Polio Legacy Project 2018 follow-up. Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    A Collaborative Initiative to Strengthen Sustainable Public Health Capacity for Polio Eradication and Routine Immunization Activities in the Eastern...


    The many challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean region put the involved countries at risk of polio transmission and affect their ability to meet progress targets in eliminating vaccine-preventable diseases. The Global Health Development (GHD) and Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network (EMPHNET) are working together on the project “Strengthening sustainable public health capacity in the Eastern Mediterranean region for polio eradication and routine immunization activities” with an overall goal of improving routine immunization, eradicating poliovirus, and controlling/eliminating or eradicating other vaccine-preventable diseases in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The aim of this manuscript is to describe the project and the achievements of GHD/EMPHNET over the last 3 years (2016-2018) to build effective surveillance and immunization systems in the Eastern Mediterranean region through the development of a sustainable and competent public health system to eradicate polio and control/eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases. This project assists the targeted Eastern Mediterranean region countries to build effective surveillance and immunization systems in an effort to expand their capacities to eradicate polio and control/eliminate other vaccine-preventable diseases. The project is streamlined with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Strategic Framework for Global Immunization 2016-2020, and the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018. The project also supports the Global Health Security Agenda by focusing on efforts to accelerate progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats. Project activities were designed to respond to countries’ needs and assist them in building their institutional and workforce capacity to effectively plan, implement, and evaluate activities to eradicate polio and strengthen routine immunization activities. The project activities covered a set of areas including surveillance of acute flaccid paralysis and other vaccine-preventable diseases, family and community engagement, workforce capacity building, improvement of data quality, management and use of information systems, use of polio assets to control/eliminate other vaccine-preventable diseases, support of countries to develop national strategies, piloting of innovative initiatives, program evaluation and accountability, and immunization strengthening. The project adopts the Global Polio Eradication Initiative strategies for assisting countries to strengthen routine immunization services, maintain highly sensitive acute flaccid paralysis surveillance, and sustain polio eradication functions.

  • Medicine of the future, showing a doctor using an interactive wall to screen the patients' medical data. Source: iStock by Getty Images; Copyright: mediaphotos; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Perception of the Progressing Digitization and Transformation of the German Health Care System Among Experts and the Public: Mixed Methods Study


    Background: Health care systems worldwide are struggling to keep rising costs at bay with only modest outcome improvement among many diseases. Digitization with technologies like Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning algorithms might address this. Although digital technologies have been successfully applied in clinical studies the effect on the overall health care system so far was limited. The regulatory ecosystem or data privacy might be responsible, but other reasons may also predominate. Objective: We analyzed how the digitization of the German health care market is currently perceived among different stakeholders and investigated reasons for its slow adaption. Methods: This was a mixed methods study split into a qualitative Part A using the conceptual approach of the Grounded Theory and a quantitative Part B using the Delphi method. For Part A we interviewed experts in the health care system and converted the results into 17 hypotheses. The Delphi method consisted of an online survey which was sent to the participants via email and was available for three months. For the assessment of the 17 hypotheses, the participants were given a six-point Likert scale. The participants were grouped into patients, physicians, and providers of services within the German health care market. Results: There was a strong alignment of opinions on the hypotheses between experts (N=21) and survey participants (N=733), with 70.5% overall agreement on 12/17 hypotheses. Physicians demonstrated the lowest level of agreement with the expert panel at 88% (15/17) disagreement, with the hypotheses “H8: Digitization in the health care system will free up jobs,” and “H6: Digitization in the health care system will empower the patients,” perceived to be in profound disagreement (P=.036 and P<.001, respectively). Conclusions: Despite the firm agreement among participants and experts regarding the impact of digitization on the health care system, physicians demonstrated a more negative attitude. We assume that this might be a factor contributing to the slow adoption of digitization in practice. Physicians might be struggling with changing power structures, so future measures to transform the market should involve them to a larger degree.

  • Source: Flickr; Copyright: Ashley Ringrose; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND).

    The Impact of War in Yemen on Immunization Coverage of Children Under One Year of Age: Descriptive Study


    Background: After 2 years of war that crippled the capacity of the Yemeni National Health System and left only 45% of health facilities functioning, Yemen faced increasing vaccine-preventable disease (VPD) outbreaks and may be at high risk of polio importation. Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the impact of the 2015 war on the immunization coverage of children under 1 year. Methods: Data on vaccination coverage for 2012-2015 were obtained from the national Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI). The vaccination coverage was calculated at the national and governorate levels by dividing the number of actually vaccinated children by the estimated population of children under 1 year. Results: Although there was an increase from 2012 to 2014 in the national coverage for penta-3 vaccine (82% in 2012 vs 88% in 2014) and measles vaccine (70% in 2012 vs 75% in 2014), the coverage was still below the national target (≥95%). Furthermore, the year 2015 witnessed a marked drop in the national coverage compared with 2014 for measles vaccine (66% in 2015 vs 75% in 2014), but a slight drop in the coverage of penta-3 vaccine (84% in 2015 vs 88% in 2014). Bacillus Calmette–Guérin vaccine also showed a marked drop from 73% in 2014 to 49% in 2015. These reductions were more marked at governorates that witnessed armed confrontations (eg, Taiz, Lahj, and Sa’dah governorates). On the other hand, governorates that did not witness armed confrontations showed an increase in coverage (eg, Raymah and Ibb), owing to an increase in their population because of displacement from less secure and confrontation-prone governorates. Conclusions: This analysis demonstrated the marked negative impact of the 2015 war on immunization coverage, especially in the governorates that witnessed armed confrontations. This could put Yemen at more risk of VPD outbreaks and polio importation. Besides the ongoing efforts to stop the Yemeni war, strategies for more innovative vaccine delivery or provision and fulfilling the increasing demands are needed, especially in governorates with confrontations. Enhancing EPI performance through supportable investments in infrastructure that was destroyed by the war and providing decentralized funds are a prerequisite.

  • Using Web-Based Pin-Drop Maps to Capture Activity Spaces Among Young Adults Who Use Drugs in Rural Areas: Cross-Sectional Survey


    Background: Epicenters of harmful drug use are expanding to US rural areas, with rural young adults bearing a disproportionate burden. A large body of work suggests that place characteristics (eg, spatial access to health services) shape vulnerability to drug-related harms among urban residents. Research on the role of place characteristics in shaping these harms among rural residents is nascent, as are methods of gathering place-based data. Objective: We (1) analyzed whether young rural adults who used drugs answered self-administered Web-based mapping items about locations where they engaged in risk behaviors and (2) determined the precision of mapped locations. Methods: Eligible individuals had to report recently using opioids to get high; be aged between 18 and 35 years; and live in the 5-county rural Appalachian Kentucky study area. We used targeted outreach and peer-referral methods to recruit participants. The survey asked participants to drop a pin in interactive maps to mark where they completed the survey, and where they had slept most; used drugs most; and had sex most in the past 6 months. Precision was assessed by (1) determining whether mapped locations were within 100 m of a structure and (2) calculating the Euclidean distance between the pin-drop home location and the street address where participants reported sleeping most often. Measures of central tendency and dispersion were calculated for all variables; distributions of missingness for mapping items and for the Euclidean distance variable were explored across participant characteristics. Results: Of the 151 participants, 88.7% (134/151) completed all mapping items, and ≥92.1% (>139/151) dropped a pin at each of the 4 locations queried. Missingness did not vary across most participant characteristics, except that lower percentages of full-time workers and peer-recruited participants mapped some locations. Two-thirds of the pin-drop sex and drug use locations were less than 100 m from a structure, as were 92.1% (139/151) of pin-drop home locations. The median distance between the pin-drop and street-address home locations was 2.0 miles (25th percentile=0.8 miles; 75th percentile=5.5 miles); distances were shorter for high-school graduates, staff-recruited participants, and participants reporting no technical difficulties completing the survey. Conclusions: Missingness for mapping items was low and unlikely to introduce bias, given that it varied across few participant characteristics. Precision results were mixed. In a rural study area of 1378 square miles, most pin-drop home addresses were near a structure; it is unsurprising that fewer drug and sex locations were near structures because most participants reported engaging in these activities outside at times. The error in pin-drop home locations, however, might be too large for some purposes. We offer several recommendations to strengthen future research, including gathering metadata on the extent to which participants zoom in on each map and recruiting participants via trusted staff.

  • Arbaeenia mass gathering. Source: Wikimedia Commons; Copyright: Alireza Vasigh Ansari; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Disease Burden on Health Facilities in Governorates South of Karbala During the Arbaeenia Mass Gathering in Iraq in 2014: Cross-Sectional Study


    Background: Millions of Iraqi pilgrims travel annually from the southern governorates to Karbala and pass through Thiqar, Muthana, and Diwania Governorates to join the Arbaeenia mass gathering event. During this event, participants are at high risk for diseases and death and stifle local health care resources. In addition, the mass gathering causes considerable burden on health facilities in the hosting localities. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted on all health facilities in three governorates (Thiqar, Muthana, and Diwania) situated along the southern way to Karbala from Basra. The study started on December 11, 2014, and ended on December 24, 2014. The morbidity and mortality were collected from surveillance logbooks and death registers. Drug purchase data were obtained from the personnel in charge of the pharmacies. The study period was divided into three phases on the basis of the timing of the mass gathering event: pre-event, the event, and postevent. Results: There were 884,834 incidents reported during the study. The majority of incidents were reported during the event phase (95%) and were attended mostly at mobile clinics (77%). The average daily incidents during the pre-event, event, and postevent phases were 4300, 56,040, and 4548 incidents, respectively. Musculoskeletal disorders were the most common illness reported (55%). The average number of daily deaths was 43, 36, and 45 during the pre-event, event, and postevent, respectively, and these values did not differ significantly. Cardiovascular diseases (43.5%), injuries (29.8%), and respiratory illnesses (12%) were the leading causes of deaths. Approximately US $1.3 million was spent on drug purchases during this mass gathering in the three governorates. Conclusions: The Arbaeenia mass gathering causes a tremendous disease and economic burden on governorates that pilgrims pass through to attend this mass gathering in Karbala governorate. Although Iraq’s Ministry of Health is aware of the high burden of this mass gathering on the health facilities in these governorates, more work is needed to ensure quality services during the event.

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

    Rapid Response Teams’ Initiative: Critical Role and Impact on National and Eastern Mediterranean Regional Emergency Management Capacity Building


    Rapid response teams (RRTs) are essential to contain the harmful effects of emergency situations and to coordinate actions in the fragile environment of the Eastern Mediterranean region (EMR). The Global Health Development and the Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network (EMPHNET) implemented RRTs to fill the human resources gap and to enable the member states to build their capacity in rapid assessment and response to public health events to reduce human suffering. To build the capacity of the member states in the field of rapid response and to build a strong team of rapid response specialists at the regional level, EMPHNET implemented this initiative at 2 levels. The first was a basic regional RRT course (July 2012). It was an introductory course for the selected candidates to provide insight and to enhance the knowledge and skills needed to be part of an RRT. The training included 32 participants from 9 EMR countries. The course was designed to allow the facilitators and selection committee to select 15 to 20 potential candidates for the advanced RRT course. The second was the advanced RRT course (September 2010 to October 2012) for training the trainers and preparing the RRTs for deployment. A series of RRT training workshops were held, with more than 650 health staff from 12 countries trained. In all workshops that were conducted during 2016-2017, the trainees showed significant improvement in their knowledge and skills.

  • Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Preventing Emerging and Re-emerging Infections in the Eastern Mediterranean Region: Gaps, Challenges, and Priorities


    Background: The Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network, supported by the Biosecurity Engagement Program, contributed significantly to strengthening the preparedness and response to the emerging and reemerging infections in the region. Objective: This study aimed to determine the gaps, challenges, and priorities for preventing the emerging and reemerging infections, with a focus on biosafety and biosecurity in 4 countries of the region, namely, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Morocco. Methods: A total of two different methods were used to determine the gaps and priorities for preventing the emerging and reemerging infections. The first method was a rapid assessment for the preparedness and response to the emerging and reemerging infections in 4 countries of the region, with a focus on biosafety and biosecurity. The second method was a face-to-face round table meeting of the participating teams for two days, where the teams from all countries presented their countries’ profiles, findings, priorities, and gaps based on the countries’ assessments. Results: The assessment and meeting resulted in several priorities and recommendations for each of the countries in the areas of legislation and coordination, biosafety and biosecurity, surveillance and human resources, case management and response, infection control and prevention, and risk communication and laboratory capacity. Conclusions: Many recommendations were relatively consistent throughout, including improving communication or building collaborations to improve the overall health of the country.

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

    Evaluation of the Yield of Histopathology in the Diagnosis of Lymph Node Tuberculosis in Morocco, 2017: Cross-Sectional Study


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

    Youth Study Recruitment Using Paid Advertising on Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook: Cross-Sectional Survey Study


  • Source:; Copyright: ‏ فی عین الله; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Knowledge, Attitude, and Practices of Food Handlers on Food Safety and Personal Hygiene During Arbaeenia Mass Gathering, Baghdad, Iraq, 2014: Cross-Sectional...


    Background: Millions of pilgrims attend Arbaeenia mass gathering (MG) in Iraq each year. Thousands of individuals work voluntarily at temporary rest areas (locally called Mawakib), distributed in most of Iraq governorates, to provide food and other services to the MG attendees. The potential for improper handling of food at Mawakib increases the risk of waterborne and foodborne diseases. Objective: This study was aimed to assess the knowledge, attitude, and practices (KAP) of food handlers in Mawakibs in Baghdad city during Arbaeenia MG. Methods: A random sample of 100 Mawakibs was selected in Baghdad, 50 from the eastern side (Rusafa) and 50 from the western side (Kerkh), and 5 food handlers were randomly selected from each Mawakib. A questionnaire was used to collect demographic data and KAP for food safety and personal hygiene. The questionnaire included 25 questions addressing knowledge, 10 addressing attitudes, and 14 addressing practices of the food handlers with respect to food safety and personal hygiene. QQuestions on knowledge and attitudes were answered through direct interview with the food handlers, whereas the questions on practices were answered through direct observation while handling or serving the food. SPSS version 20 (IBM SPSS Statistics 20) was used for data analysis and describing proportions. Results: There was a varied knowledge of food safety practices among the individuals interviewed. On a scale of 3, the overall average score for both the attitude and practices for food safety and personal hygiene was 2, which corresponds to fair attitude and practices. The attitudes varied significantly by location, age group, and education, whereas the practices varied by location, age groups, employment, and previous experiences. Conclusions: The food handlers had unsatisfactory attitudes and practices toward food handling and personal hygiene. Their participation in food handling at Mawakib carries a potential risk of spreading foodborne and waterborne diseases. All individuals intending to serve in Mawakib as food handlers should be licensed from the Ministry of Health after completing a formal training in food safety and personal hygiene.

  • Source: Unsplash; Copyright: Trent Szmolnik; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    The Association Between Internet Searches and Moisturizer Prescription in Japan: Retrospective Observational Study


    Background: Heparinoid is a medication prescribed in Japan for skin diseases, such as atopic dermatitis and dry skin. Heparinoid prescription has increased with instances of Internet blogs recommending its use as a cosmetic. Objective: This study aimed to examine the prescription trends in moisturizer use and analyze their association with Internet searches. Methods: We used a claims database to identify pharmacy claims of heparinoid-only prescriptions in Japan. Additionally, we used Google Trends to obtain internet search data for the period between October 1, 2007, and September 31, 2017. To analyze the association between heparinoid prescriptions and Internet searches, we performed an autoregressive integrated moving average approach for each time series. Results: We identified 155,733 patients who had been prescribed heparinoid. The number of prescriptions increased from 2011 onward, and related Internet searches increased from 2012 onward. Internet searches were significantly correlated with total heparinoid prescription (correlation coefficient=.25, P=.005). In addition, internet searches were significantly correlated with heparinoid prescription in those aged 20-59 years at −1-month lag in Google Trends (correlation coefficient=.30, P=.001). Conclusions: Google searches related to heparinoid prescriptions showed a seasonal pattern and increased gradually over the preceding several years. Google searches were positively correlated with prescription trends. In addition, in a particular age group (20-59 years), prescriptions increased with the increase in internet searches. These results suggest that people obtained health-related information on the internet and that this affected their behavior and prescription requests.

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