A New Zealand doctor fed up with complaints about the lack of up-to-date magazines in his waiting room decided to investigate.
He tracked the weekly whereabouts of 82 magazines, 47 of which were less than two months old.
After a month, he found that 41 of the 87 magazines had disappeared.
Latest edition magazines were more than twice as likely to go missing as older ones and gossipy magazines were more likely to disappear than more mainstream titles.
The findings of the study by Professor Bruce Arroll and colleagues are published in the Christmas issue of the British medical journal, The BMJ.
The magazines used in the waiting room of a general practice in Auckland included Time magazine, the Economist, Australian Women’s Weekly, National Geographic, BBC History plus a range of gossipy titles.
Each magazine was marked with a unique number on the back cover and monitored twice weekly.
Current magazines were more likely to go missing than older ones (59% compared with 27%).
Gossipy magazines were 14 times more likely to disappear 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.
The researchers, who now recommend that GP use old copies of the Economist and Time magazine to save costs, say they discovered the waiting room has its own hashtag, #waitingroom, tracking adventures (or non-adventures) in all types of waiting rooms.
“We feel the existence of this hashtag bodes well for the future of waiting room science and we believe that it will not be long before students are tweeting excitedly about their latest courses #waitingroomscience,” they write.
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