BACKGROUND: There now exists many alternatives to direct journal access, such as podcasts, blogs, and news sites for physicians and the general public to stay up-to-date with medical literature . Currently however, there is a scarcity of literature that investigates these readership characteristics of open access medical news sites and how they may have shifted with coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19).
OBJECTIVE: The current study aimed to employ readership and survey data to characterize open access medical news readership trends in relation to COVID-19 in addition to overall readership trends regarding pandemic related information delivery .
METHODS: Anonymous aggregate readership data was obtained from 2 Minute Medicine® (www.2minutemedicine.com), an open-access, physician-run medical news organization that has published over 8000 original physician-written text and visual summaries of new medical research since 2013 . In this retrospective observational study, the average article views, actions (defined as the sum of views, shares, and outbound link clicks), read times, and bounce rate (probability to leave a page in <30s) were compared between COVID-19 articles published between January 1 to May 31 , 2020 (N = 40) to non-COVID-19 articles (N = 145) published in the same time period . A voluntary survey was also sent to subscribed 2 Minute Medicine readers to further characterize readership demographics and preferences scored by Likert Scale .
RESULTS: COVID-19 articles had significantly more median views than non-COVID-19 articles (296 vs. 110, U = 748.5, P <0.001). There were no differences in average read times or bounce rate . Non-COVID-19 had more median actions than COVID-19 articles (2.9 vs. 2.5, U = 2070.5, P <0.05). On a Likert scale of 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly Agree), survey data revealed that 66% (78/119) of readers Agreed or Strongly Agreed that they preferred staying up to date with emerging literature surrounding COVID-19 using sources such as 2 Minute Medicine versus direct journal access . A greater proportion of survey takers also indicated open access news sources to be one of their primary means of staying informed (71.7 %) than direct journal article access (50.8 %). A lesser proportion of readers indicated reading one or less full length medical study following introduction to 2 Minute Medicine compared to prior (16.9% vs. 31.8%, P <0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: There is a significantly increased readership in one open-access medical literature platform during the pandemic, reinforcing that open-access physician-written sources of medical news represent an important alternative to direct journal access for readers to stay up to date with medical literature.