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Does the BJGP need more fizz and pop? A Midland Faculty readership survey



Background. The British Journal of General Practice (BJGP) is the leading primary care journal in the world. By impact factor, it ranks 24th of all medical journals. However, despite major changes in the journal since its inception in 1954, there have been no published readership surveys since a limited report in 1969. Aim. To canvass members of the Midland Faculty and to add to the debate about the future of the BJGP. Method. A postal questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 299 members, fellows and associates of the Midland Faculty asking for their views about the BJGP. Results. Two hundred replies were received la response rate of 67%). The median year of qualification of responders was 1981, and 32 (16%) held academic posts. Ninety-nine (49%) disagreed with the present format of the BJGP, which compared poorly with the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in simple rank order of importance. Readership was equal to that of the BMJ (93% reading it within 28 days of arrival), but fewer people read it within a week of receiving it. The most popular sections were the editorials, original articles and letters; least popular were the book reviews and the pull-out magazine, Connection. All sections were rated excellent to average. Readers wished for an expansion of the BJGP to include clinical reviews, medical politics and humorous pieces. Most responders felt that Connection should remain separate. There was dissatisfaction with the delay between submission and publication of original articles, particularly among the academic general practitioners (GPs). Academics and fundholders did not differ from other readers in their views of the content or style of the BJGP. Half of the responders stated that the BJGP should be self-financing and should be open to more advertising. Responders' free comments largely related to improving the style of articles and expanding the BJGP. Conclusion. There is a view that the present BJGP is not relevant to the non-academic GP. This is probably due to style rather than content. Simple comparisons with a weekly multi-disciplinary journal may not be valid. The style could be updated to improve retention of information and to highlight areas of particular relevance. Readers are satisfied with the core content of the BJGP but want it to expand to include humour, clinical reviews and medical politics, for example. There is no evidence that the BJGP is more appealing to the academic GP. This study supports an expanded BJGP with an improved style

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