BCMJ member research results

Issue: BCMJ, Vol. 58, No. 10, December 2016, page(s) 582, 583 Pulsimeter
Jay Draper

This August the BCMJ conducted an online survey of Doctors of BC members. The objective was to gather member insights to increase BCMJ value by understanding your needs, preferences, and behaviors. Specifically, we wanted to discover if the publication is still meeting your needs, learn what you want to read in the journal, find out your use of online vs print, get your impression of some new ideas, and generally find out how you get your information.

The online survey sampled approximately 3000 Doctors of BC members, which is about one-third of active members. We received responses from 720 members, which represents a response rate of 24%. Responses to the demographic questions suggest a representative sampling of the general membership. The survey was conducted by TWI Surveys, a BC-based firm that has conducted member and employee research in the health care sector for 20 years.

We received hundreds of comments—more than 800 in total, providing us with a rich resource of information on what you want to read (e.g., “controversial topics and important principles”) and your overall thoughts on the publication and on Doctors of BC. For example, one member asked for “information about the structure of the organization, how to address issues of concern to practising physicians—where do you start if you want to make a change?”

Impressions of the journal
Overall, BC physicians consider the BCMJ a valuable, unique source of information on other members, medicine in BC, and association news. The uniqueness of the journal—the fact that the BCMJ fills a niche for you that no other publication does—was a theme in previous studies, so we’re gratified that this continues to be an area in which we’re valuable to you.

About 39% of members could be called “fans” (always or usually read the BCMJ), 53% are “browsers” (sometimes or occasionally read), and 8% never read the BCMJ. While we would prefer to convert many more members from browsers to fans, we consider the finding that 92% of members at least occasionally read the journal a good one.

We learned that the most popular content type in the BCMJ is clinical articles (69% of respondents listed that in their top three), follow by case studies (45%) and CME listings/job opportunities (31%). Clinical articles have made significant gains in popularity, moving from the middle of the pack to the top. Also popular are essays/special features, editorials, features about your colleagues, and committee columns.

Fully 80% of members agree or strongly agree that the BCMJ is a good way to learn about what’s happening in medicine in BC, and 74% agree or strongly agree that it’s a good place for doctors to share their opinions.

Specialists and family physicians agree or strongly agree in about equal measure that the BCMJ is a good place to learn about medicine in BC, but specialists are significantly less likely to agree or strongly agree that it has unique content that is relevant to them (45% vs 65%). This is another finding that aligns with previous studies; as the BCMJ is a general medical journal, specialist physicians will likely continue to seek information of relevance to their specialty in specialty journals.

Online and print
Members are overwhelmingly more likely to read the journal in print than online. Currently only about 9% of readers use bcmj.org as their primary reading medium, with the rest primarily using print. The low online readership is perhaps surprising in light of the general shift toward digital, but given that most online BCMJ content is available in print, it is likely a matter of the convenience of being able to pick up and put down the journal either in leisure spaces or when gaps emerge in the workday.

Not surprisingly given this preference, a strong majority of members want us to keep a print version of the BCMJ in the future. However, those who prefer digital feel strongly as well, and digital is too important an archiving and distribution channel (outside our membership) to ignore.

We learned that most online readers continue to use a large screen, with 42% using a laptop and 26% using a desktop computer. The remaining one-third are smart phone (19%) and tablet (13%) users. Because bcmj.org’s web platform has reached the end of its useful lifespan (it was built in 2007), we will soon begin rebuilding the website to take advantage of tools we know that you prefer and to ensure that the journal can be read on smaller devices such as tablets and phones. As one member commented, “I would use BCMJ online content if it was easily accessible in an app.” In addition to the improvements we will make to bcmj.org, we will continue to have a strong, print-first orientation as this is your clear preference.

Social media
While younger physicians are more likely to have downloaded or used medical applications, the majority of all respondents have used apps at some point. The most used social media platform used by members who responded to this survey, by a large margin, is Facebook, at 54%, followed by Instagram (19%), LinkedIn (18%), Google Plus (18%), Twitter (15%), and Snapchat (8%). All the technology-related question in our survey showed a steady age-related curve, with the oldest physicians being the least likely to use digital tools.

CME credits for reading
One idea we tested in the survey is a practice already being used by some other journals: creating a mechanism through which you could earn CME credits by interacting with BCMJ content.

More than 60% of members showed an interest in receiving CME credits for interacting with the clinical content of the BCMJ, with the 35-45 age group being significantly more interested than older members. Just under 60% of respondents agree that “if CME credit was achievable through reading/interacting with BCMJ content it would increase the relevance of that content.”

Adding a CME credit component to the BCMJ is an area we are likely to investigate.

For more information
A 23-page report on the findings of the survey is posted below; if you would prefer to receive this report via e-mail, please email journal@doctorsofbc.ca with the subject line “Survey findings” and we will send you a copy of the PDF (3 MB). We always appreciate your feedback and ideas for improvement of the BCMJ, so if you didn’t receive the survey but would like to share your opinion, please e-mail your comments to journal@doctorsofbc.ca.

Thanks to everyone who responded; we take your feedback and ideas seriously, and we are working hard to improve the BCMJ so that we may continue to be an important part of your medical life.
—Jay Draper
Managing editor

Read the complete report: BCMJ 2016 Member/Reader Research report (PDF)

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