Health Informatics News

Focus Issue Co-Editors: Suzanne Bakken (Columbia University, New York, NY; Tiffany Veinot (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI); Jessica Ancker (Weill-Cornell Medical College, New York, NY)

Description of Special Focus Issue

While investments in health and healthcare continue to grow, certain negative health outcomes are disproportionately experienced by specific groups in the United States and other countries, a phenomenon called health disparities. Health informatics interventions hold promise for enabling health equity and improving the health of marginalized groups — but this potential is yet to be fully realized. The goal of this proposed special focus issue is to highlight health informatics research that focuses on marginalized and underserved groups, and health equity. Expectations are that submissions will involve groups that experience health disparities as participants and/or focus on informatics-relevant policies, practices, interventions, environments, and institutions that (re-) produce disparities in health and healthcare. Contributions that involve both observational and interventional methods are welcome, and submitted papers may utilize qualitative and/or quantitative data. Research reports must include thorough explanations of study participant demographics, setting, methods, and data analysis. For interventional research, contributions that focus on health equity-relevant independent or outcome variables, and that conduct analyses regarding treatment effect heterogeneity are especially encouraged. We also encourage researchers to reflect on their methods of recruitment and enrollment, their intervention designs, and analytical methods to discuss how health equity-related issues affected their research. As part of this, we welcome reflections upon ways to improve upon past efforts. Relevant methodological contributions and equity-focused systematic reviews are also desired.

General Information about the journal can be found on the JAMIA website.

Topics of Interest

This Special Focus Issue aims to collect novel health informatics research focused on marginalized and underserved groups, health disparities, and health equity. This special issue welcomes original research papers, perspectives, conceptual papers, case reports and systematic review articles addressing a range of topics associated with this area including, but are not limited to, the following areas:

- designing interventions for marginalized and underserved groups

- methods for engaging marginalized and underserved groups in design and research

- access to, and uptake of, informatics interventions for marginalized and underserved groups

- methods for engaging marginalized and underserved groups in the longer-term use of informatics interventions

- non-use and non-adherence to interventions in marginalized and underserved groups

- evaluations of interventions that address outcomes of interest to marginalized and underserved groups, or that assess heterogeneity of treatment effects for subgroups (see 1,2 for suggested guidelines on reporting for equity-relevant trials)

- collection and analysis of social determinants of health and other contextual data

- clinical informatics interventions that highlight and/or address disparities in healthcare access and quality

- developing and validating theories that address health disparities that can inform informatics interventions

- ethical and policy studies focused on marginalized and underserved groups and disparities, including the potential role of technology in widening inequality

- upstream interventions that target the social origins of health disparities

- unintended consequences of interventions for health equity

- health equity-focused systematic reviews (see 3 for suggested guidelines on reporting)

Important Dates

January 9, 2019 - Paper submission deadline
February 6, 2019 - Initial decisions
March 11, 2019 - Paper revisions due
April 11, 2019 - Final decisions
November, 2019 - Issue published

Submission and Peer Review Process

To ensure consideration in the special issue, authors should provide a cover letter that clearly states that the submission is for the “Special Focus Issue on Health Informatics and Health Equity: Improving Our Reach and Impact” All manuscripts will be subject to the rigorous JAMIA peer-review process. Manuscripts that are considered within scope and meet quality expectations will be reviewed by informatics experts for scientific merit. Manuscripts that are out of scope for this special issue, but within scope for JAMIA, may be considered for regular publication. Authors who are not comfortable or experienced with journal-style scientific writing should seek the assistance of a technical editor to ensure that the submission meets quality expectations of the journal.

Questions Regarding the Issue

Please email any questions regarding the special issue or submissions to Sara Tinsley at the editorial office with the subject line “Special Focus on Health Equity”.

1. Welch VA, Norheim OF, Jull J, Cookson R, Sommerfelt H, Tugwell P. CONSORT-Equity 2017 extension and elaboration for better reporting of health equity in randomised trials. BMJ. 2017;359.

2. Jull J, Whitehead M, Petticrew M, et al. When is a randomised controlled trial health equity relevant? Development and validation of a conceptual framework. BMJ Open. 2017;7(9).

3. Welch V, Petticrew M, Tugwell P, et al. PRISMA-Equity 2012 Extension: Reporting Guidelines for Systematic Reviews with a Focus on Health Equity. PLoS medicine. 2012;9(10):e1001333.


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