American Family Physician: Well-read and Relevant for 60 Years and Counting

June 15, 2010 02:40 pm "Voices" Staff

It's not just another stuffy research journal, and it's been that way for 60 years.

"It" is American Family Physician, the Academy's clinical journal, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2010. You probably don't give it a second thought each time you pick up AFP or access it online, but back in 1950, when GP (which became AFP) made its debut, there was nothing else like it for America's general practitioners.

[American Family Physician]

The journal's founding publisher, Mac Cahal, who also was the Academy's first executive director, once said that his biggest contribution to the Academy was "to give prestige and dignity to the general practitioners. They had been discriminated against for years, and were considered nobodies among medical organizations." He gave them a lively, practical, relevant clinical journal to call their own, one that pioneered the use of color among medical publications.

In the years since its founding, AFP has grown and developed alongside the specialty of family medicine, and it's become a mainstay for family physicians nationwide.

Currently, nearly 175,000 family physicians and other primary care clinicians receive the print version of AFP. Most AAFP members receive it free, and it's also mailed free to many general internists and osteopathic physicians. When it comes to journal circulation numbers among primary care clinicians, AFP is number three in the United States, behind only the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine.

But when it comes to readership, AFP emerges as number one among family physicians. Surveys have shown that AFP is the family physician's favorite clinical journal and that it has more "high readers" (i.e., those who thoroughly read a majority of issues) than any other journal.

When it comes to quality and relevance, AFP scores again. In one AAFP survey, AFP was rated with the highest overall quality of the journals presented, including JAMA and NEJM. Furthermore, 98 percent of survey respondents said they glean at least one idea they can use in their practice in a typical issue of AFP.

So the next time your issue of AFP arrives, pause and reflect on the way it helps you provide the best possible care for your patients. If you have suggestions for how AFP could do an even better job, share your thoughts. AFP is planning significant changes and additions during the next several years, and your input counts. After all, it's your journal.