James Krajeski, M.D., editor in chief of Psychiatric News,
presents the results of its 2004 readership survey to APA's Trustees at their
July meeting. David Hathcox
Are you being served? That was what the editors of Psychiatric News
(PN) wanted to find out last fall as we surveyed APA members in our
latest readership survey, the third we have conducted in the last six
Our readers told us that PN is in fact doing well, with 75 percent
of respondents rating the newspaper as excellent or good in meeting their
professional needs, and 81 percent rating the quality of articles as excellent
or good. In addition, 75 percent of respondents were very satisfied or
satisfied with PN's content.
Readers also indicated that they are pleased with the paper's design, with
70 percent of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that the overall
design and layout make the newspaper easy to read.
Compared with our competitors, PN was deemed to be of more value
to readers and was the preferred publication for information on mental
health/psychiatric issues. It was also rated the best psychiatry-related
newspaper for employment opportunities.
The survey obtained a 50 percent response rate from a random sample of
1,000 APA members. The demographic information obtained from the respondents
closely parallels the demographics of APA members in general, so we are
reasonably certain that the conclusions are representative of the broader
The survey was also sent to all members of the Board of Trustees and
Assembly. Because the random sample was expected to capture few Canadian
members, a separate e-mail survey was sent to all Canadian members for whom
APA had e-mail addresses. The results for those groups were tabulated
separately from those of the random sample of members. The data in this
article refer to the responses from the randomly sampled members. The
confidence level of the results is +/- 4.4 percent.
Readers were also asked to rank their interest in the newspaper's regular
features. They rated Viewpoints, From the President, Letters to the Editor,
and the Medical Director's Desk (the medical director's column) highest.
Reports of Board and Assembly actions and the Residents' Forum were ranked
relatively low (see chart on page 22).
The feedback on topics of interest to readers paralleled closely the
results of prior surveys. Readers were most interested in clinical news and
information, psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, and research news. They were
least interested in reading news about APA members and district branch
activities. However, for even the lowest-ranked items a sizable portion of
readers (about one-fourth to one-third) still indicated that these topics were
of substantial interest to them (see chart on page 22).
The survey also provided an opportunity for readers to comment on how
PN could be improved, and numerous respondents took advantage of that
As one might expect, there were some contradictory opinions—for
example, some wanted articles to provide more details, though most readers who
commented on article length preferred shorter articles. One of the most common
requests was to reduce the number of articles that "jump" from one
page to another. There were several requests to add an opportunity to obtain
CME credit. A few respondents suggested in one way or another that PN
was too much of a house organ. Some respondents felt there was too little
focus on Canadian issues.
Readers may wonder how we use the results of these surveys. We have
responded to past surveys by increasing considerably the amount of coverage of
clinically related topics. We will continue to focus heavily on this area as
the recent survey shows that reader interest in such topics remains
The results also indicate that there is a diverse range of areas in which
APA members are interested, so we will continue to provide coverage that fits
the wide-ranging interests of the various subgroups of the membership.
We are aware from this and previous surveys of readers' dislike of articles
that jump from one page to another. We do make considerable effort to keep
these to a minimum in each issue. The section heads that are a key feature of
PN's design, however, prevent us from eliminating jumps entirely.
We will also explore the possibility of offering CME credit within
PN ways to better address issues that may be of greater interest to
All of us on the staff thank the members who participated in the survey. I
invite all readers to help shape our coverage by providing ideas and feedback
to me and our staff. Please contact us at