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Am Fam Physician. 1999;60(8):2213

The staff of AFP recently had a unique opportunity to witness the journal's tremendous reader support. Despite the antics of hurricane Floyd, which struck the eastern seaboard in mid-September during AAFP's Annual Scientific Assembly in Orlando, decreasing the overall attendance, record numbers of readers still headed toward AFP's booth in the exhibit hall. While many readers stopped by to pick up the latest edition of the journal, chat with the editors and publisher, ask questions and fill out a written survey, many others stopped by to participate in one-on-one interviews with AFP staff—a new way of getting to know our readers better.

Even though part of the interviewing team stayed home in Kansas City after flights were canceled, the interviews went on as planned. Remaining staff were overwhelmed yet delighted as nearly 450 readers signed up for interviews to provide AFP and its companion publication, Family Practice Management, with opinions on a variety of topics. Readers were interviewed about the content, appearance and utility of the two journals. Almost as telling as the positive feedback received were the long waiting lines that readers were willing to endure just to get a chance to talk with staff.

The interviews were part of a three-part strategy implemented this year to gather reader feedback. Beginning in January, we started including a grade card along with each “Clinical Quiz,” consisting of three quickly answered questions evaluating the quality of CME in each issue. Answers to these questions are submitted along with answers to the quiz, on spaces provided on the quiz card.

A second part of our carefully planned research included two mail surveys, the first of which was distributed to a random sample of 1,200 readers, both AAFP members and nonmembers, and the second of which was distributed to 2,000 randomly chosen readers.

Preliminary results from the interviews and surveys show that most trends in readers' preferences are slow-moving yet distinct. For instance, it has only been in the past decade that AFP started publishing patient information handouts and, as they became an integral part of the journal, readers started taking notice and asking for more. The recent mail surveys show steady growth in the number of readers who are distributing AFP's patient information handouts in their practices, and readers can be sure that AFP will continue to make development of top-quality patient information materials a priority.

Other information shows that more and more readers are finding AFP on the Web. It's still a secret to some that the full text of AFP is available online, but surveys show that the message is starting get through: that is, to find readily available state-of-the-art clinical reviews and AFP's favorite departments, readers need only go to Not surprisingly, an increasing number of physicians are also taking advantage of the convenience of earning their CME credits by completing the online version of the “Clinical Quiz.”

If you're worried that we've got major changes in store, this should put your mind at ease: although readers often have suggestions for tweaking the journal, many plead “Leave AFP just as it is.” We're listening.

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Copyright © 1999 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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