Survey shows strong support for ASPS/ASAPS unification

Mike Stokes
03/06/2013 at 11:00AM

Three-fourths of ASAPS members and more than 80 percent of ASPS members overall indicated they would "strongly favor" or "somewhat favor" unifying the two plastic surgery organizations while retaining the Aesthetic Society's unique identity, according to a survey distributed Feb. 4 on behalf of the ASPS Executive Committee.

The survey was initiated to solicit membership input on a proposal approved by the ASPS/PSF Board of Directors in October 2012 to engage the Aesthetic Society in a strategy to begin discussions to unify both organizations. The introduction to the survey cited opportunities to provide greater value to members of both organizations through a reduced dues structure, avoiding redundancy of education and research activities, coordinated public outreach efforts and eliminating duplicative efforts.

"A significant goal in this effort is to maintain and strengthen ASAPS' unique identity and the tremendous value of its aesthetic brand, its distinct membership, educational focus and leadership within a combined organizational structure that will align and strengthen all aspects of aesthetic surgery within plastic surgery," the Executive Committee noted.

More than 1,300 ASPS and ASAPS members provided basic practice and membership demographic information and responded to the following question:

Would you be in favor of bringing ASAPS and ASPS together as one organizational entity, while retaining ASAPS' distinct identity, with a distinct membership, educational focus and leadership, but eliminating duplication of programs/initiatives between the two societies and reducing costs and member dues?

More than 70 percent of respondents who reported having 100 percent cosmetic practices were in favor of unification, and more than 85 percent of those with practices evenly divided between reconstructive and cosmetic said they favored unifying ASPS and ASAPS (see table below, which compares responses from plastic surgeons who have dual membership in both societies ("ASPS & ASAPS Members"), as well as those who are members only of ASPS ("ASPS Members Only")).

Survey Results

More than 94 percent of ASAPS members who are in their first five years of practice responded favorably to the idea, and more than 90 percent of total respondents in this category said they would favor unification. Nearly 80 percent of all members in practice for more than 20 years said they would support unification.

"Unification of ASPS and ASAPS has been talked about for years," says ASPS President Gregory R.D. Evans, MD. "The survey was intended to gather some actual data on how membership felt about working toward a unification strategy."

ASAPS President Leo McCafferty, MD, issued a letter to members of the Aesthetic Society on Feb. 5 stating that the Aesthetic Society did not endorse the survey, which had been conducted without input from ASAPS.

"The concept of unification is not new and has been discussed several times over the last 20 years; it always ends with the same conclusion," Dr. McCafferty wrote. "In the final analysis, and after considerable thought and discussion among leaders from both organizations, collaboration/cooperation [and] not unification, was deemed to be in the best interest of board certified plastic surgeons, our specialty, and most importantly our patients. We still endorse this policy; unfortunately, the ASPS did not offer an option to continue our current collaborative efforts."

"The survey was intended simply to solicit feedback on what we view as an important topic for our collective membership," says Dr. Evans. "In recent years, we have heard, with increasing frequency from members, about the difficulty in paying dues to support two separate societies. The Executive Committee wanted to gather more data from our membership rather than rely on anecdotal evidence on the topic of unification."

The survey results strongly suggest that the membership of ASPS and ASAPS are in favor of unification.

The survey was distributed to 5,592 ASPS members, of which 1,321 responded - a response rate of approximately 24 percent. The confidence interval for all respondents is +/- 2.4 percent, while the confidence interval for the 560 respondents who are members of both ASPS and ASAPS is +/- 3.6 percent, and the confidence interval for the 761 respondents who are members of ASPS only is +/- 3.1 percent.

"ASPS will continue to serve the educational interests of all of its members," says Dr. Evans. "Based on survey data from last year's annual meeting, we will continue to offer new and expanded aesthetic programming for Plastic Surgery The Meeting in San Diego as part of a well-rounded and comprehensive curriculum that appeals to all aspects of our specialty."

READ MORE: ASPS and The PSF President share their thoughts on unifying ASPS and ASAPS