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Am Fam Physician. 2006;74(4):537

Reader surveys are a valuable way to assess what readers want in AFP and to learn more about their reading habits. We conduct several surveys ourselves each year, but we also pay to obtain results of surveys conducted by an outside company on behalf of advertisers, ad agencies, and a wide variety of medical publishers to obtain independent, objective data. This company, Perq/HCI, uses two different methodologies, both of which aim to measure reading frequency and depth of many different medical journals. The data is broken down into several subcategories, such as type of physician and whether the physician is office based or hospital based.

Recent Survey Results

Among physicians who identify themselves as office-based family physicians, AFP has the highest readership scores of the many medical journals included in the study. When readers were asked how many of the last four issues received they read, 75 percent said they read at least three of four (which is up slightly from last year), and 59 percent said they read every issue.

The survey found that more than 80 percent read most AFP articles in the issues they read, and about 28 percent read AFP from cover to cover, while very few readers merely “skim” the journal. These are impressive numbers considering the limited time physicians have to read the many journals and other publications that come across their desks.

The survey results among hospital-based family physicians for number of average issues read and for reading thoroughness are about the same as for office-based physicians.

The research company surveys physicians of all major specialties, not just family medicine. Results for physicians in all primary care specialties (a much larger universe than family physicians only) show that AFP is number one for the percentage of issues read among primary care physicians. In fact, no other publication that focuses on family medicine came close to AFP in that audience.

The second methodology used in the research measures readership in terms of the number of issues read out of three and the percentage of each issue read. In this analysis, a person who reads at least two thirds of the issues and at least two thirds of each issue is called a “high reader.” In this analysis, AFP is number one among the same audiences as the studies mentioned above and has been for several years.

What Does This Mean?

While the major consumers of the Perq/HCI survey data are pharmaceutical companies and advertising agencies planning where to place advertising, we at AFP also find the data valuable. These surveys allow us to monitor our performance over time. Monitoring readership trends over a long period helps us identify where we’re headed, what other medical publications are doing, and how our readers read the journal. This is important because we are always working to maintain AFP’s position as the best journal in the field. These independent surveys are just one more method we can use to monitor the quality of AFP.

Still, survey data are just data. We need your direct feedback, too. Remember that you can contact us by sending in the comment card included in each issue, or you can e-mail us at

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