Starting or Strengthening a Drug Bulletin - A Practical Manual
(2005; 165 pages) View the PDF document
Table of Contents
View the documentPreface
View the documentHow the manual was produced
View the documentAbout ISDB
View the documentExecutive summary
Open this folder and view contents1. Introduction
Open this folder and view contents2. Rational use of medicines
Open this folder and view contents3. What are drug bulletins?
Open this folder and view contents4. Defining aims, target and type of bulletin
Open this folder and view contents5. Planning resources
Open this folder and view contents6. Planning bulletin production: schedules and timing
Open this folder and view contents7. The editorial process
Open this folder and view contents8. Reviewing a new drug: is it a therapeutic advance?
Open this folder and view contentsAnnexe to Chapter 8: Evaluating harm
Open this folder and view contents9. Design and production
Open this folder and view contents10. Dissemination
Open this folder and view contents11. Organizational and legal issues
Close this folder12. Evaluating quality and usefulness
View the document12.1 Introduction
View the document12.2 Evaluation brings many benefits
View the document12.3 Three approaches: audit, feedback and impact assessment
View the document12.4 Start with your own evaluation of the bulletin
Close this folder12.5 Assessing readers' opinions of the bulletin
View the document12.5.1 Methods of assessing readers’ opinions
View the document12.5.2 Potential problems
View the document12.5.3 Selecting the data collection method
View the document12.5.4 Planning the survey
View the document12.5.5 How many replies are enough?
View the document12.5.6 Drafting the questions
View the document12.6 Evaluating the impact of the bulletin
View the document12.7 Feedback is achievable and invaluable
View the document12.8 Simple observations can tell a lot
View the document12.9 References
Open this folder and view contents13. Partnership and collaboration
Open this folder and view contents14. Keeping records and creating a memory
Open this folder and view contentsAppendix: Electronic sources of information
 

12.5.1 Methods of assessing readers’ opinions

Regular assessments of readers’ opinions on the quality and usefulness of articles are not difficult and should be undertaken by all bulletins. At the simplest level, information about subscribers and their opinion of the bulletin can be collected from the subscription renewal form, by analysing spontaneous mail from readers and by asking questions about why people stop subscribing. Bulletins that receive a large number of letters (several thousands per year) can retrieve much relevant information from this mail, with the quality of the letters’ content increasing with the development of the bulletin. The richer the content of the bulletin is, the more varied and interesting the exchanges with readers are.

Simple readership surveys can be carried out annually and more in-depth surveys, focus group discussions, etc. every few years. It may involve surveying everyone on the mailing list, a random sample of the mailing list or a specific professional group (e.g. primary care doctors). This type of evaluation is useful for finding out if a bulletin is read, easily understood, kept for future reference, and how readers value the information in it.

This can be done through:

• a readership survey;

• focus group discussion;

• discussions involving 'spontaneous' groups of readers (for example, groups of readers with common practices, such as refusing visits from pharmaceutical company representatives, or generic prescribers, or readers’ clubs simply meeting together to critically discuss each issue of the bulletin);

• in-depth interviews with individuals (in person or by telephone);

• 'target audience' contact. You sometimes want to study the views of non-readers in your target audience as well as the views of your loyal readers.


Sometimes two or more separate, but complementary, methods are used, such as a postal questionnaire and interviews. A telephone survey can be used to validate the postal survey because it can be done without identifying who the survey is being conducted for; this can eliminate some of the response bias which occurs when it is obvious which publication the survey is about. For bulletins that are available electronically, surveys by e-mail may be feasible.

Using one of these methods it is possible to find out what readers think of a bulletin and how it can be improved. They are relatively easy and inexpensive to conduct, especially simple surveys, and do not require an external infrastructure, such as one that collects prescription data or adverse drug reaction reports. In addition, a single assessment can cover a range of issues. For example, a Prescriber Update survey1 included questions about how well the bulletin was read, usefulness of various types of articles, perceived influences on prescribing, readability, preferred authors, design improvements and whether electronic distribution was an acceptable alternative to paper copies. However, when designing survey questions, it is important to maintain a balance between how much is asked and the likelihood of the respondents completing the survey.

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