Background: For over 20 years, a free quarterly 16–24-page newsletter called Science & Practice has been disseminated to healthcare staff and decision-makers by SBU, the Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment. Using a journalistic format to promote critical thinking, systematic reviews, risk of bias and critical thinking have been recurrent themes in the newsletter. Reader surveys have been performed repeatedly in random samples of major target groups to monitor attitudes and self-reported reading behaviour.
Objectives: To investigate target groups’ attitudes toward SBU as a source of health evidence and to evaluate readers’ views and self-reported reading of SBU’s free quarterly newsletter Vetenskap & Praxis (Science & Practice).
Methods: A mail survey followed by three reminders was sent to healthcare decision-makers and health professionals in Sweden 2008, 2010 and 2014, both readers and non-readers. Stratified random samples from these years came from 1000, 1833, and 2000 individuals. Responders could remain anonymous.
Results: Weighted total response rates were 60%, 63% and 47%. A majority reported practical benefits of SBU's results. The major source was SBU's free newsletter, rated as good or very good. A majority reported that they read at least something in every issue. Self-reported web searching for medical information showed no increase since 2008. Few agreed that the newsletter should be available online only.
Conclusions: A free, printed newsletter targeting health professionals and policy-makers, using journalistic tools and a long-term approach, can achieve substantial readership and result in awareness of systematic reviews of health interventions and critical analyses of benefits, risks and costs. Further analyses are needed to investigate specific impact on attitudes, knowledge and behaviours, depending on context and modes of presentation.