Why are magazines in practice waiting rooms mainly old?

Ever wondered why general practice waiting rooms contain mainly old magazines? Could it be that practice staff put out only old magazines or do they put out reasonably recent ones and these disappear?

Fed up with complaints about the lack of up to date magazines in the waiting room of his general practice, Professor Bruce Arroll and colleagues set out to answer the question. Their findings are published in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

A total of 87 magazines were stacked into three mixed piles and placed in the waiting room of a general practice in Auckland, New Zealand. They included non-gossipy magazines (Time , the Economist, Australian Women's Weekly, National Geographic, BBC History) and gossipy ones (defined as having five or more photographs of celebrities on the front cover).

Of the 82 magazines with a date on the front cover, 47 were less than 2 months old and the rest were 3-12 months old. Each magazine was marked with a unique number on the back cover and monitored twice weekly.

The main aims of the study were to find out if the new or old magazines disappeared first, to measure the rate of loss, and the loss of gossipy compared with non gossipy magazines.

Afer 31 days the study was stopped and 41 of the 87 (47%) magazines had disappeared - a disappearance rate of 1.32 magazines each day. Current magazines were more likely to go missing than older ones (59% compared with 27%).

Gossipy magazines were over 14 times more likely to disappear at any time than non-gossipy magazines. Of the 19 non-gossipy magazines (four Time magazines and 15 of the Economist), none had disappeared by the end of the study. Of the 27 gossipy magazines, only one was left.

Magazines that disappeared were also significantly cheaper than those that remained.

This study is possibly the first to explain the lack of up to date magazines in doctors' and to quantify their loss, say the authors.

Extrapolating their findings of 41 magazines each month at an average cost of £3.20 ($5.00; €4.00) per magazine over the 8,000 practices in the UK, this equates to £12.6m disappearing from general practices - resources that could be better used for healthcare.

Practices should consider using old copies of the Economist and Time magazine as a first step towards saving costs, suggest the authors.

Further research would include identifying who or what is responsible for the removal of magazines, they conclude.


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More information: The BMJ, www.bmj.com/cgi/doi/10.1136/bmj.g7262
Journal information: British Medical Journal (BMJ)

Citation: Why are magazines in practice waiting rooms mainly old? (2014, December 11) retrieved 22 July 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-12-magazines-rooms.html
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User comments

Dec 12, 2014
Wow. I can sleep better now! A few thoughts on this groundbreaking study:

87 in each waiting room, in all 8,000? That sounds very high.

I don't know about UK, but many magazines I see in US waiting rooms are "hand-me-downs" from staff, offering a reason why they're old - rather using old intentionally. I doubt offices are holding new issues for 2 months before putting them out. This is why address label has often been removed.

Additionally, I am not certain, but some of the subscriptions may be given to offices free of charge to get patients interested in their magazine.

It's only a loss of money if taken magazines are replaced by others, or more are stocked knowing they'll be taken. After 15d, 67 magazines still sounds high. Also, if gossipy magazines were 2x as likely to be taken, was it accounted for that those magazines may be cheaper than things like Time and the Economist, lowering the loss? What about getting rid of free coffee, that may cut the the same, or more.

Dec 12, 2014
correction... article said gossipy magazines were 14x more likely to be taken...

Upon rereading, the article said, "Gossipy magazines were over 14 times more likely to disappear at any time than non-gossipy magazines. Of the 19 non-gossipy magazines (four Time magazines and 15 of the Economist), none had disappeared by the end of the study. Of the 27 gossipy magazines, only one was left."

19+27 does not equal 87. Also, if NONE of the non-gosspiy magazines disappeared, how can they come up with a discrete number of "14 times" more likely? It's been a while since I've performed any statistical calculations beyond the basics, so maybe I'm missing something...

Dec 12, 2014
Good example of misrepresenting the facts. There is no financial loss or gain in having magazines circulating about. They get read. That's what they are for. Waiting rooms will always have magazines to read. They get dropped off and they get picked up. So what?

Dec 12, 2014
Bring your iPad/Kindle and read what you want or do email. No more outdated anything. Problem solved

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