Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Medicine-related articles

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For advice on choosing and using reliable sources, see Wikipedia:Reliable sources (medicine-related articles).

This page delineates style guidelines for editing medical articles. The general rules from the Wikipedia:Manual of Style also apply when writing medical articles.

Article titles[edit]

See also: Wikipedia:Article titles

The article title should be the scientific or recognised medical name that is most commonly used in recent, high-quality, English-language medical sources, rather than a lay term (unscientific or slang name)[1] or a historical eponym that has been superseded.[2] These alternative names may be specified in the lead. Create redirects to the article to help those searching with alternative names. For example, heart attack redirects to myocardial infarction.

The article title is subject to the same sourcing standards as the article content. Where there is a dispute over a name, editors should cite recognised authorities and organisations rather than conduct original research.[3]

For capitalisation, Wikipedia article titles use sentence case rather than title case (for example, "Diabetes mellitus" rather than "Diabetes Mellitus"). For punctuation, e.g., possessive apostrophes and hyphens, follow the use by high-quality sources. Where there are lexical differences between the varieties of English, an international standard should be sought. Some examples of international standards include:

Titles requiring disambiguation[edit]

See also: Wikipedia:Disambiguation

When one single term is used to describe two different topics, article titles must be disambiguated to resolve naming conflicts. To accomplish this, disambiguating words are used in parentheses after the article titles. When disambiguating a medicine- or anatomy-related article from an article about a totally different topic, the appropriate disambiguating words are "medicine" or "anatomy," respectively.

For example, "nail" may refer to several items, including a fingernail or a pin-shaped metal object used in construction. In this case, the appropriate article titles are Nail (anatomy) for the fingernail, and Nail (fastener) for the piece of hardware. Because neither of these articles can be considered a primary topic for the term, Nail is a disambiguation page that lists both articles.

When the medical or anatomical context is the primary use of the term, the article should not use a disambiguation word. For instance, the primary and most common use of the word "foot" is for the body part at the end of the leg. Thus, Foot is the appropriate title of the article; while Foot (length) is an article about the unit of measurement called foot. Use of "anatomy" is not appropriate.

In cases when a medical- or anatomy-related term is a secondary use for a more common usage, only the medical (or anatomical) article requires a disambiguation. Most commonly, "percussion" is used to describe an instrument that makes sound when struck, so Percussion links directly to the article about the instrument; the medical-usage of the term is located at Percussion (medicine).

When there are two or more distinct uses for the same term within medicine or anatomy, using the disambiguation word "medicine" or "anatomy" will not be sufficient for distinction between topics. In this situation, the general medical specialty (for medicine) or specific body part (for anatomy) should be used. For example, "foramen ovale" may refer to either the structure of the skull or the heart. Therefore, the appropriate article names are Foramen ovale (skull) and Foramen ovale (heart), respectively. Since neither anatomical structure is a primary topic for the term, Foramen ovale is a disambiguation page.

Common pitfalls[edit]

Writing for the wrong audience[edit]

See also: Wikipedia:Make technical articles accessible, and Wikipedia:Explain jargon

Wikipedia is written for the general reader. It is an encyclopaedia, not a comprehensive medical or pharmaceutical resource, nor a first-aid (how-to) manual. Although healthcare professionals and patients may find much of interest, these two groups do not by themselves represent the target audience.

Signs of writing or editing for (other) healthcare professionals
  • You give technical advice, particularly for the steps in a thorough diagnostic workup.
  • You use jargon when there are suitable plain English words (for example, consider using "kidney" rather than "renal").
  • You remove mention of non-mainstream treatments or practices (maintain a neutral point of view keeping coverage proportionate to that from reliable secondary sources).
  • You use the word "patients" or "cases" when describing those who have a medical condition (see below).
  • You overstate controllable risks in the hope that your patients will be more compliant with your directions.
  • You make sure that readers know that your process or product is patented.
  • You list every unusual manifestation ever reported, because it might help someone correctly diagnose an atypical case.
  • You use a writing style appropriate only for graduate-level courses, because that's what you see in peer-reviewed journal articles and professional reference works.
Signs of writing or editing for (other) patients
  • You use the word "you" when describing those who have a medical condition.
  • You give practical advice, particularly when medical help should be sought or is required.
  • You are tempted to lift text from a patient information leaflet or website.
  • You mention treatments or practices that you've read about in a newspaper or from personal experience.
  • You add "helpful" external links, such as forums, self-help groups and local charities.
  • You emphasize or de-emphasize verifiable facts so that readers will make the "right" choice in the real world.
  • You play down information that might discourage patients (for example, that a disease is typically fatal), or you give undue attention to individual success stories.
  • You use a writing style appropriate for 12-year-olds, because the sixth grade reading level is recommended for patient information leaflets.

Sometimes, you write or add information that is specific to one country: for example, drug-licensing and health-service provisions. In contrast, you should maintain an international perspective: for example, by seeking out English-language sources from non-English-speaking countries.

A guide for journalists on how to translate the writings of researchers into something understandable to the general public is available on the University of Kansas website here (PDF).

Trivia[edit]

See also: Wikipedia:Trivia sections.

Avoid lists of trivia by working these tidbits of information into the main body text. Sections on history or on popular culture may help to structure such factoids.

In addition, sections containing many references to various studies are preferably not simply titled "Research" without further specification, since the space below such a header tends to develop into a miscellaneous and unorganized dump of random studies that have any link to the subject, with over-emphasis on the names of the people who conducted the studies, their research institutions and so on. Unless the contents relate to principles or techniques in researching, and could fit into the main article Research, the titles of such sections are better specified with what the studies and their results are aimed at. That is likely also what the readers want to know about.

Coatracks and tangents[edit]

See also: Wikipedia:Coatrack.

Even if a statement is true, verifiable, and important, it may not be relevant to the article you're writing. The existence of a "hook" is not a good reason to "hang" material in an given article.

For example, the article Chemotherapy should not be the home for information about cancer prevention, radiation therapy, or surgery, even if these subjects are mentioned in passing somewhere in the article. Articles about drugs, procedures, and devices may mention the company or people who developed them, but they should not include information that is not directly relevant to the main subject, such as material about their personal lives or unrelated products.

Careful language[edit]

Medical usage of common terms often differs from that of the general public. This is particularly common with medical terms that are used in legal contexts, with related but significantly different meanings. (See the Manual of Style.) In addition, note that:

  • Approved and indicated mean different things, and should not be used interchangeably. Indications refer to common medical uses for a drug. Approval is a regulatory issue, which varies from country to country. Off-label refers to the use of a drug for a purpose other than which it was approved for.
  • Sometimes positive and negative medical test results can have, respectively, negative and positive implications for the patient. For example, a negative breast cancer-screening test is very positive for the woman being screened.
  • The phrase psychologically addictive has so many conflicting definitions that it is essentially meaningless. Replace the term with something specific. If you want to convey that a drug does not cause tolerance, or that its withdrawal syndrome is not life-threatening, then state that.
  • The term drug abuse is vague and carries negative connotations. In a medical context, it generally refers to recreational use that carries serious risk of physical harm or addiction. However, others use it to refer to any illegal drug use. The best accepted term for non-medical use is "recreational use".
  • The term significant can refer to either statistical significance or clinical significance. Statistical significance means that the results are unlikely to be due to chance. Clinical significance means that the results are large enough to be noticed by the patient and will make a difference in the effect of the disease or condition on the patient. For example, a reduction of one ounce of body weight may be statistically significant in a large population, but has no clinical significance for the individual. Linking to statistical significance may be useful.
  • Avoid using the potentially ambiguous term doctor to refer specifically to physicians or surgeons. Avoid using doctor or physician in ways that incorrectly exclude other licensed healthcare professionals, such as nurses, physician assistants, and midwives.
  • Allopathy is potentially confusing to readers in different cultures, as it could refer to traditional enantiopathic preparations or to mainstream modern medicine, depending on context. Avoid using allopathic to describe modern Western medicine; instead use conventional medicine or mainstream medicine. Not all mainstream medicine is actually evidence-based medicine, and not all alternative medicine is traditional medicine.
  • Do not confuse patient-group prevalence figures with those for the whole population that have a certain condition. For example: "One third of XYZ patients" is not always the same as "One third of people with XYZ", since many people with XYZ may not be seeking medical care.
  • Correctly identify what your source discusses, without generalizing or interpreting it to related ideas. If the source talks about the effect of a single chemical purified from a plant (e.g., aspirin from white willow bark), do not misrepresent the work as referring to the plant from which it was derived. Similarly, if the source talks about effects in cultured cells or non-human animals, do not misrepresent the work as demonstrating anything about humans.
  • Choose appropriate words when describing medical conditions and their effects on people. The words disease and disorder are not always appropriate. Independently observed medical signs are not self-reported symptoms. Avoid saying that people "suffer" from or are "victims" of a chronic illness or symptom, which may imply helplessness: identifiers like survivor, affected person or individual with are alternate wordings. Many patient groups, particularly those that have been stigmatised, prefer person-first terminology—arguing, for example, that seizures are epileptic, people are not. An example of person-first terminology would be people with epilepsy instead of epileptics. In contrast, not all medical conditions are viewed as being entirely disadvantageous by those who have them. Some groups view their condition as part of their identity (for example, some deaf and autistic people) and reject this terminology. For more advice, see Guidelines for Non-Handicapping Language in APA Journals.

Copyright violations[edit]

Medicine-related articles must adhere strictly to Wikipedia's copyright policies. Whether something is copyrighted is not always apparent. For example, the official descriptions of mental disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders are copyrighted, as are most questionnaires used for medical screening purposes. Write in your own words whenever possible, and ask for help about the fair use of images and text when you need it.

Writing style[edit]

The overall writing style of an article should reflect Wikipedia's nature as an encyclopedia. For example:

General tone[edit]

  • Do not address the reader directly. Ensure that your writing does not appear to offer medical advice. However, a disclaimer to this effect is never required[4] since the general disclaimer can be accessed from any page on Wikipedia. Statements using the word should frequently provide inappropriate advice (e.g., "People with this symptom should seek medical care") instead of plain statements of facts.
  • Do not use a question-and-answer or FAQ format. Use declarative sentences to directly and concisely tell the reader facts.
  • Rely on wikilinks to help articles stay focused and to avoid placing undue weight on peripheral details. For example, when writing about a blood test, don't include the normal venipuncture procedures or the type of Vacutainer generally used. Instead, link to the normal procedures but provide any important and unusual information in the article you are working on.

Wikipedia is not a medical primary resource[edit]

  • Wikipedia articles are not textbooks.
    • Most mnemonics and rules of thumb exist primarily to help medical students pass tests. Just give the information without the artificial and distracting structure of memory aids.
  • Wikipedia is not a procedural manual. Don't give "how-to" instructions. For example, when writing about a specific surgery, don't list all the equipment that will be needed or give advice on how to hold, store, use or clean that stuff. Instead describe the guidelines and procedures in a reader-neutral manner, perhaps by using passive voice.
  • Wikipedia is not a collection of case studies, and excessive examples should be avoided.

Citing sources[edit]

Sources should be used to make verifiable statements, but they should not be discussed by themselves in an article.

  • Do not provide a detailed analysis of an individual study unless the analysis itself is taken from a published reliable source. Wikipedia should concisely state facts about a subject. It should not discuss the underlying literature at any length. Generally speaking, the facts will be found in the conclusions or results section of a study, not in the detailed methodology. Articles that rely on secondary sources are less likely to fall into the trap of discussing the size of a single study, its methodology, its biases, and so forth. Thus, "washing hands after defecating reduces the incidence of diarrhea in the wilderness", not "An uncontrolled survey involving 132 experienced long-distance backpackers on the Appalachian trail in 1997 concluded that washing hands after defecating reduces the incidence of diarrhea in the wilderness."
  • Do not hype a study by listing the names, credentials, institutions, or other "qualifications" of their authors. The text of the article should not needlessly duplicate the names, dates, titles, and other information about the source that you list in the citation. Always omit professional titles and academic degrees: use "Smith" or "Jones" rather than "Dr Smith" or "Prof Jones". It is necessary to specifically include such information only when a specific individual is being cited as an example of a person holding a minority view: You might write, "The AIDS Denialist Society says that HIV is entirely harmless", but just use a plain statement for the widely accepted fact, "HIV causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome."
  • Do not publish your own views about studies.
  • Adding sources to the lead is a reasonable practice but not required as long as the text in question is supported in the body of the article

Technical terminology[edit]

  • When mentioning technical terms (jargon) for the first time, provide a short plain-English explanation in parentheses if possible. If the concept is too elaborate for this, wikilink to other articles (or Wiktionary entries). For terms related to anatomical position, you can link to Anatomical terms of location, e.g. [[Anatomical terms of location|lateral]]. Alternatively, if the technical word is not used again in the article, it may be appropriate to use plain English and place the technical term within brackets. The etymology of a word can be interesting and can help the reader understand and remember it. Provide links only where they may help the readers and are reasonably focused on the topic.
  • Because we are writing an English encyclopedia, terms reflect common usage in reliable sources even if such spelling or declension varies from their linguistic roots in Latin, Greek, German, or another foreign language.
  • Use the nonproprietary name when referring to a drug in medical articles. Wikilinked instances of the name may be followed by the proprietary name in parentheses: "trastuzumab (Herceptin)".

Infoboxes[edit]

Infoboxes should be used where appropriate. These include

Full instructions are available on the page for each infobox. A suitable picture for the infobox is encouraged. For drugs, the 2D structure in SVG format is preferred, but PNG is acceptable. The easiest way to populate the drugbox and protein templates is to use Diberri's template-filling web site. Search DrugBank for the drug and enter the ID[5] in this page, or search HUGO for the protein and enter the ID[6] in this page.

Sections[edit]

Shortcuts:

The following lists of suggested sections are intended to help structure a new article or when an existing article requires a substantial rewrite. Changing an established article simply to fit these guidelines might not be welcomed by other editors. The given order of sections is also encouraged but may be varied, particularly if that helps your article progressively develop concepts and avoid repetition. Do not discourage potential readers by placing a highly technical section near the start of your article.

An appropriate list of appendices follows at the end of articles for citations and other resources.

Diseases or disorders or syndromes[edit]

Clinical articles can achieve a level of consistency by limiting their top-level headers to those specified below. However, the spectrum of medical conditions is huge, including infectious and genetic diseases, chronic and acute illness, the life-threatening and the inconvenient. Some sections will necessarily be absent or may be better merged, especially if the article is not (yet) fully comprehensive.

A disease that is now only of historical significance may benefit from having its History section moved towards the top. Establishing the forms of the disease (Classification) can be an important first section. However, if such classification depends heavily on understanding the etiology, pathogenesis or symptoms, then that section may be better moved to later in the article. If a disease is incurable, then the Prognosis section can be moved up and a section called Management is more appropriate than Treatment.

The following list of suggested headings contains wikilinks; the actual headings should not.

  • Classification: If relevant. May also be placed as a subheading of diagnosis
  • Signs and symptoms or Characteristics
  • Causes: Includes Risk factors, triggers, Genetics or genome, Virology (e.g., structure/morphology and replication).
  • Mechanism: For information about pathophysiology.
  • Diagnosis: Includes characteristic biopsy findings and differential diagnosis.
  • Prevention or Screening (if the section only discusses secondary prevention it should follow the treatment section)
  • Treatment or Management: This might include any type of currently used treatment, such as diet, exercise, medication, palliative care, physical therapy, psychotherapy, self care, surgery, watchful waiting, and many other possibilities. Consider discussing treatments in a plausible order in which they might be tried, or discussing the most common treatments first. Avoid experimental/speculative treatments and preventive measures (e.g., prophylactic vaccines or infection-avoidance techniques). As per the policy of WP:NOTHOW, Wikipedia articles should not be written in a "how-to" style, but this does not prevent adding official guidelines of treatments or managements if these can be presented in an objective manner and with medically reliable sources.
  • Outcomes: For the prognosis. May also be labeled "Possible outcomes" or "Outlook".
  • Epidemiology: factors such as incidence, prevalence, age distribution, and sex ratio.
  • History: Early discoveries, historical figures, and outdated treatments (not patient history)
  • Society and culture: This might include stigma, economics, religious aspects, awareness, legal issues, notable cases
  • Research directions: Include only if addressed by significant sources. See Trivia, and avoid useless statements like "More research is needed". Wikipedia is not a directory of clinical trials or researchers.
  • Special populations, such as Geriatrics or Pregnancy or Pediatrics
  • Other animals

Drugs, medications and devices[edit]

The lead should highlight the name of the drug as per normal guidelines (in general, the International Nonproprietary Name). The BAN or USAN variant may also be mentioned, with the word in bold. The initial brand name(s) and manufacturer follows, in parentheses. Indicate the drug class and family and the main indications. The External links section is a magnet for online pharmacy spam and should be avoided if possible.

Try to avoid cloning drug formularies such as the BNF and online resources like RxList and Drugs.com. Extract the pertinent information rather than just dumping low-level facts in a big list. For example, a long list of side effects is largely useless without some idea of which are common or serious. It can be illuminating to compare the drug with others in its class, or with older and newer drugs. Do not include dose, titration or pricing information except when they are extensively discussed by secondary sources, or necessary for the discussion in the article. Wikipedia is not an instruction manual or textbook and should not include instructions, advice (legal, medical or otherwise) or "how-to"s; see WP:NOT#HOWTO, and the Wikipedia:Medical disclaimer.

The following list of suggested headings contains wikilinks; the actual headings should not.

Surgeries and procedures[edit]

  • Medical uses
  • Contra-indications
  • Technique (avoid step-by-step instructions)
  • Risks/Complications
  • Recovery or Rehabilitation
  • History (e.g., when it was invented)
  • Society and culture (includes legal issues, if any)
  • Special populations
  • Other animals

Symptoms or signs[edit]

Most articles about medical signs and symptoms should follow the below recommended structure. Omit sections that your sources do not address and combine sections when this seems sensible. For example, the definition of some signs is amply covered by an explanation of the mechanism, so having a section dedicated to the definition would be redundant.

  • Definition (current definitions)
  • Differential diagnoses or Associated medical conditions
  • Pathophysiology or Mechanism
  • Diagnostic approach or Evaluation
  • Treatment or Management (for the symptom itself, if any: e.g., analgesics for pain)
  • Epidemiology (incidence, prevalence, risk factors)
  • History (of the science, not of the patient: e.g., "The oldest surviving description is in a medical text written by Avicenna.")
  • Society and culture (e.g., cachexia was a literary symbol for tuberculosis in the 19th century and for AIDS in the 1980s.)
  • Research (Is anything important being done?)
  • Other animals

Medical tests[edit]

Articles about diagnostic tests or other medical tests may follow this suggested order. Many articles will only need some of these sections. This might also be a useful model for certain procedures.

While a general description of procedures may have encyclopedic value, articles about tests and other medical procedures should not provide step-by-step directions, patient instructions, disclaimers or warnings. Wikipedia is not an instruction manual and does not give medical advice.

  • Types, if more than one kind or variant of the test or procedure exists
  • Medical uses, including approved indications, non-approved indications (also called off-label uses), and contraindications
  • Mechanism, how the test or procedure works
  • Preparation
  • Procedure
  • Interpretation of results, including accuracy and specificity of test results
  • Adverse effects
  • Legal issues, such as whether special counseling is mandated, if any
  • History of the test

Anatomy[edit]

  • Structure including a brief description of location and size, course, insertions and attachments. Possible subsections for blood supply, lymphatic drainage and innervation if these are complex enough. There is no need to duplicate information provided in the infobox. If covered on the same page, subsections may be devoted to individual substructures.
    • Variations, describing variations, if appropriate
    • Development, discussing the embryological/foetal and early-life development of the structure. May be included as a subsection in 'structure' for minor anatomical structures.
    • Histology, where appropriate
  • Function or Physiology as appropriate
  • Clinical significance, discussing related diseases, medical associations with the structure, and use in surgery.
  • Society and culture, which may be excluded in minor anatomical structures.
  • History, describing the structure and the etymology of the word. Etymology may be included as a separate subsection, if sufficient information exists.
  • Other animals, which may include comparative anatomy for discussing non-human anatomy in articles that are predominantly human-based.
  • Additional images to store high-quality images. These images should be kept to a minimum and provided in gallery format when consistent with Wikipedia's Image Use policy on galleries. Additional images are stored in Wikicommons.

Additionally:

  • The lead should begin by stating in the most general form the location and purpose of the structure. For example, The metatarsals are bones found in the human foot
  • A link to the common's image category for images may be provided in the 'see also' section. If article makes use of anatomical terminology, please add {{Anatomy-terms}} or {{AT}} as the first link in the 'see also' section.
  • If the article uses text from public domain source, please add appropriate tags such as {{Gray's}} as the first link in the section relating to references.

Medical specialties[edit]

  • Scope including typical diseases/medical conditions; include any important sub-specialties
  • History development of field, including notable founders
  • Investigations investigations, diagnostics, and related techniques used in specialty
  • Treatments
  • Training may be subdivided by country if necessary
  • Ethical and medicolegal issues any ethical issues that are specific to this field

This list of sections deliberately does not include: lists of professional organizations, training programs, publications, and companies working in the field.

Standard appendices[edit]

After the content of the article, please organize citations and other resources in the following order:

  • See also: Avoid the See also section when possible; prefer wikilinks in the main article and navigation templates at the end.
  • Notes and References: Both WP:General references and WP:Inline citations belong here.
  • Further reading: The Further reading section lists books and other publications (not usually websites) that were not used as references and that editors recommend to readers. These may be historically important publications, significant textbooks, or popular science works.
  • External links: Avoid if possible; see additional advice below.

Notable cases[edit]

See also: Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons, Wikipedia:Trivia sections, and Lists of people.

Articles on medical conditions often include lists of notable individuals who have (or had) the disease. This may be manageable if the disease is rare. For common conditions, it can become a distraction from the main article and contain much unreferenced and dubious material. If you do include such a list, ensure your entry criteria are well defined so that future editors may know if their additions are welcome. One restriction that some editors favour is to include only those individuals who have lastingly affected the popular perception of a condition, such as through public awareness campaigns or enduring media coverage.

Unsourced additions, particularly for living persons, must be removed. Responsibility for justifying controversial claims rests firmly on the shoulders of the editor making the claim. Be very firm about high-quality references, particularly about details of personal lives. Entries in the list must normally be notable (a straightforward test of which is the presence, or realistic hope, of a Wikipedia article). Non-notable relatives of notable people should not be included. Questions may be directed to the noticeboard for biographies.

If the list is (or could be) long enough to support a separate article, then consider splitting it off. The format can be prose, such as Sociological and cultural aspects of Tourette syndrome#Notable individuals, or a list, such as List of people with epilepsy. Regardless, such articles must be well verified or they may quickly end up deleted. Wikipedia's Naming conventions generally discourage the use of words such as "notable" or "famous" in such list titles.

Etymology[edit]

Etymologies are often helpful, particularly for anatomy. Features that are derived from other anatomical features (that still have shared terms in them) should refer the reader to the structure that provided the term, not to the original derivation. For example, the etymology section of Deltoid tuberosity should refer the reader to the deltoid muscle, not to the definition 'delta-shaped, triangular'. The etymology in Deltoid muscle, however, should identify the Greek origin of the term.

In articles that focus on anatomy, please include the Latin (or Latinized Greek) name of anatomical objects, as this is very helpful to interwiki users and for people working with older scientific publications.

Many articles about eponymous diseases and signs include the origin of the name under the history section.

External links[edit]

A link made in the infobox (such as to eMedicine) or in the list of references should not be repeated in this section. Disease-related organisations and government health departments sometimes produce web pages containing substantial information that would be of interest to readers wishing to further study the topic. Such links are chosen for the information content, not because the organisation is particularly worthy or helpful. All links must meet Wikipedia's external links guidelines, which in particular exclude discussion forums.

Don't use external links

  1. that lead to information already included in the article
  2. to web-based or email-based support groups for patients, professionals, or other affected people (even if run by a charitable organization)
  3. to local, state, or regional charities, hospitals, clinics, or programs, or to meetings or events in a single location
  4. to personal experiences or survivor stories
  5. that recruit for clinical trials, sell products, or raise money

If the disease is very rare, then a manageable set of charitable organisations may be of encyclopaedic interest. In these cases, prefer links that provide information that is likely to be interesting to readers worldwide, such as a detailed article on the specific topic.

Normally, however, it is better to link to an external web page that lists such charities, rather than try to provide such a list ourselves. The Open Directory Project contains many such links, for which the {{dmoz}} template is useful. For example, on the Tourette syndrome page:

*{{dmoz|Health/Conditions_and_Diseases/Neurological_Disorders/Tourette_Syndrome/Organizations/}}

gives

There are a number of templates that help format external links for common medical web sites. Full instructions are available on their respective pages. The most common ones are integrated in {{Infobox Disease}}.

Citing medical sources[edit]

Shortcuts:

For guidance on choosing and using reliable sources, see Wikipedia:Reliable sources (medicine-related articles) and Wikipedia:Reliable sources.

For general guidance on citing sources see Wikipedia:Citing sources, Wikipedia:Footnotes and Wikipedia:Guide to layout.

Medical articles should be relatively dense with inline citations, using either <ref> tags (footnotes) or parenthetical citations. It is not acceptable to write substantial amounts of prose and then add your medical textbook to the References section as a non-specific or general reference. It is too easy for a later editor to change the body text and then nobody is sure which statements are backed up by which sources. Unlike many established scientific disciplines, medicine attracts controversy and opponents on even the most basic and commonly held facts.

There is no universal standard for formatting citations on Wikipedia, but the format should be consistent within any one article. Some editors format their citations by hand, which gives them control over the presentation. Most editors on biomedical topics prefer to use citation templates such as {{Cite journal}}, {{Cite book}}, {{Cite web}}, {{Cite press release}}, or {{Cite news}}. The alternatives {{Cite doi}} and {{cite pmid}} produce citations in one style which is dissimilar to the above citation style.

Templated citations[edit]

Citations in the Vancouver format can be produced using the "vcite" family of templates rather than the standard templates. Simply replace the "Cite" with "vcite" when typing the template name: for example, {{vcite journal}}. AMA citation guidelines suggest that if there are more than six authors, include only the first three, followed by et al.[7] The Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals (URM) citation guidelines list up to six authors, followed by et al. if there are more than six.[8] Some editors prefer to expand the abbreviated journal name; others prefer concise standard abbreviations.

Abstracts of most medical journals are freely available at PubMed, which includes a means of searching the MEDLINE database. The easiest way to populate the journal and book citation templates is to use Diberri's template-filling web site or the Universal reference formatter. Search PubMed for your journal article and enter the PMID (PubMed Identifier) into Diberri's template filler or the Universal reference formatter. If you use Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox (2.0+), then Wouterstomp's bookmarklet can automate this step from the PubMed abstract page. Take care to check that all the fields are correctly populated, since the tool does not always work 100%. For books, enter the ISBN into Diberri's tool. Multiple references to the same source citation can be achieved by ensuring the inline reference is named uniquely. Diberri's tool can format a reference with the PMID or ISBN as the name. An alternative is to use a Harvard-style reference: for example, name=Hedley2004.

In addition to the standard citation text, it is important to supply hyperlinks, which greatly assist verification. If citation templates are used, these links can be supplied via the |pmid=, |doi=, |url= and |pmc= parameters. Do not add a "Retrieved on" date for convenience links to online editions of paper journals (however "Retrieved on" dates are needed on other websources).

A citation using {{Cite journal}}:

{{cite journal |author=Bannen RM, Suresh V, Phillips GN Jr, Wright SJ, Mitchell JC |title=Optimal design of thermally stable proteins |journal=Bioinformatics |volume=24 |issue=20 |pages=2339–43 |year=2008 |pmid=18723523 |pmc=2562006 |doi=10.1093/bioinformatics/btn450 |url=//bioinformatics.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/24/20/2339 }}

produces:

The alternative {{vcite journal}} produces:

The date parameter should reflect the "Publication date" as given on PubMed or elsewhere, rather than a preprint e-pub date:

{{cite journal |author=Meunier B, Robert A |title=Heme as trigger and target for trioxane-containing antimalarial drugs |journal=Acc Chem Res. |date=Nov 16, 2010 |volume=43 |issue=11 |pages=1444-51 |type=Review |pmid=20804120 |doi=10.1021/ar100070k }}

produces:

  • Meunier B, Robert A (Nov 16, 2010). "Heme as trigger and target for trioxane-containing antimalarial drugs". Acc Chem Res. (Review) 43 (11): 1444–51. doi:10.1021/ar100070k. PMID 20804120. 

The shorthand {{cite pmid|20804120}} produces a different format:

  • Meunier, B.; Robert, A. (2010). "Heme as Trigger and Target for Trioxane-Containing Antimalarial Drugs†". Accounts of Chemical Research 43 (11): 1444–1451. doi:10.1021/ar100070k. PMID 20804120.  edit

Hand-coded citations[edit]

Even when hand-coding citations there are still template tools to assist editors with making these links. If the abstract of a journal article is available on PubMed, add a link by typing PMID xxxxxxxxx. If the article has a digital object identifier (DOI), use the {{doi}} template. If and only if the article's full text is freely available online, supply a uniform resource locator (URL) to this text by hyperlinking the article title in the citation. If the full text is freely available on the journal's website and on PubMed Central, prefer to link the former as PubMed central's copy is often a pre-publication draft. When the source text is available in both HTML and PDF, the former is preferred, as it is compatible with more browsers.

For example:

Levy R, Cooper P. [//www.mrw.interscience.wiley.com/cochrane/clsysrev/articles/CD001903/frame.html Ketogenic diet for epilepsy.] Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2003;(3):CD001903. {{doi|10.1002/14651858.CD001903}}. PMID 12917915.</ref>

produces the footnote

Navigation boxes[edit]

Suitable templates for navigation boxes can be found here:

Navigational boxes should follow a standardized style. Navboxes are constructed using the hlist class to delineate material into horizontal lists. For more information, see WP:HLIST. As when choosing article titles, drugs should be referred to by their International Nonproprietary Names, using piped links when required. More information about creating navigational templates can be found in the documentation of Template:Navbox.

Manually added footnotes may be used to indicate the regulatory status of a drug; for instance, one may wish to note that a drug is still in development, is only used in veterinary medicine, or has been withdrawn from the market. The recommended order of footnote symbols is: *, †, ‡, §. Working examples may be seen in several navboxes, including {{HIVpharm}} and {{QuinoloneAntiBiotics}}.

Categories[edit]

Diseases or disorders or syndromes

Diseases/disorders/syndromes should be categorized within Category:Diseases and disorders by their ICD-10 code(s). These articles should not also be categorized by medical specialty or body part if they are properly categorized in a subcategory of Category:Diseases and disorders. If applicable, diseases/disorders/syndromes may also be categorized within subcategories of Category:Genetic disorders.

Drugs

Drugs should be categorized within Category:Drugs by target organ system based on ATC code. Drugs can also be categorized by mechanism of action in Category:Drugs by mechanism of action and by physical structure.

Symptoms or signs

Symptoms and signs should be categorized in subcategories of Category:Symptoms and Category:Medical signs, respectively. Symptom categorization should be based on ICD-10 code.

Medical tests

Articles about medical tests themselves should be categorized in subcategories of Category:Medical tests based on the type of sample tested (e.g. Category:Blood tests). Diagnostic imaging should be categorized into subcategories of Category:Medical imaging (e.g. Category:Radiography for x-ray based imaging). Articles about results of medical tests should be categorized by ICD-10 code in subcategories of Category:Abnormal clinical and laboratory findings (e.g. Hyperglycemia is located in Category:Abnormal clinical and laboratory findings for blood).

Anatomy

Articles about anatomy should be categorized within subcategories of Category:Organs and Category:Organ systems.

Medical specialties

Major specialties practiced within the field of medicine should each have their own Eponymous category within Category:Medical specialties. Articles for medical specialties should be a member of its eponymous category.

People

People with a medical condition should only be categorized within subcategories of Category:People by medical or psychological condition - not within any category for medical specialties, diseases or disorders categories. Where the categorization is at all contentious or doubtful, it should not be included. A source for the categorization must be provided within the article. See also the policy on living persons and guideline on categorizing people.

Stubs

Stub articles should may additionally be categorized according to the list at Wikipedia:WikiProject Medicine/Stub sorting.

Categorizing redirects[edit]

For more details see Wikipedia:Categorising redirects.

Please categorise redirects only if the redirect is for a significantly different alternative name, not minor variants on spelling, capitalisation, or punctuation. Categorising these redirects allows readers to find articles by browsing the categories, even if they only know one of the names for the condition.

Example: Acne aestivalis (article) and Mallorca acne (redirect) are two names for the same condition. Both the article and the redirect include Category:Acneiform eruptions.

Redirects that are categorised should be additionally tagged with {{R from alternative name}}, and the talk page may be tagged for the project with {{WPMED}}, with the class set to Redirect and the importance either left blank or set to NA.

Redirects to minor variations should not be categorised and should not be tagged with {{R from alternative name}}. Other {{R from}} templates may be appropriate on these redirects, such as {{R from alternative spelling}}, {{R from alternative capitalisation}}, {{R from alternative punctuation}}, or {{R from plural}}.

Images[edit]

In addition to the usual standards of image selection outlined by the Wikipedia:Image use policy and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Images, which cover image quality and pertinence, several other considerations apply to articles about medical conditions:

  • Identifiable people: Although the Wikimedia Foundation does not require any special protection for people whose images are being used in medicine-related contexts, editors are encouraged to be especially cautious about associating living people with diseases. In general, identifiable images of people should be provided with the person's consent, and preferably this noted on the image's description (an example of an image with this is here). Where consent is not documented, WP:GOODFAITH should be assumed. In choosing images of identifiable people with a medical condition, prefer images of people who are strongly associated with the condition (e.g., Terry Fox for osteosarcoma) or are engaged in a public activity associated with that disease (e.g., AIDS patients at an ACT UP event) when such images are available.
  • Technical images: Highly technical images, such as of stained pathology slides, are appropriate for many articles. However, they are often not the most accessible images for the introduction. Consider placing simpler images in the lead and placing more technical images in a specific, relevant section with captions in plain English.
  • Shock value: Some images of medical conditions or procedures disturb some readers, e.g., because of visible deformities or the presence of blood. Potentially disturbing images should not be used for their shock value, for decoration, or merely to add an image. A detailed caption that identifies specific features may simultaneously increase the educational value of the image and reduce the likelihood of disturbing readers. Placement in a highly relevant section, rather than in the introduction, is also likely to reduce the shock value to readers. Wikipedia:Offensive material offers additional advice.
  • Sexual images: Many medicine-related articles include images of genitals or other body parts normally kept covered, and a significant fraction of articles are directly related to sexuality. In general, Wikipedia aspires to be a high-quality reference source, and thus follows the general patterns of other high-quality reference sources. Doing so also helps editors comply with the directive from the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees to follow the principle of least astonishment in image selection. In some cases, these closely related principles of following the sources and not needlessly surprising readers means providing multiple photographs of genitals, even though that may offend some viewers. In other cases, this means using line art or other drawings. In still others, it means choosing non-sexual images. For example, images for anatomy articles should normally be taken from line art and unemotional photographs in the standard anatomical position, rather than from art nudes or pornography magazines. In general, editors should choose images of the sort they find in high-quality reliable sources, with the least distraction or irrelevancies (e.g., high heels on an otherwise naked woman or visible genitals in an image that is supposed to illustrate Navel), and use appropriate captions to maximize the educational value of the images. Wikipedia:WikiProject Sexology and sexuality/WIP-image-guidelines offers some additional advice.
  • POV pushing: On occasion, disputes arise over the neutrality of image choices. For example, an editor may want to include a picture of a person urinating outdoors to tell the world that urinating outdoors is natural and appropriate. An editor who denies the existence of AIDS may oppose inclusion of an image of the HIV particle because they believe the virus does not exist. Other editors have promoted the inclusion of long-term survivors of normally deadly diseases to "give other patients hope". None of these are good reasons for choosing or deleting images. Images should be chosen and located because they illustrate specific concepts described in the text they are attached to.

Graphs[edit]

Main page: Wikipedia:Graphs

Graphs are commonly produced off wiki and uploaded as images. Graphs can also be produced or linked to with several templates. See Wikipedia:Graphs for a list of some options.

To reduce needless disputes later, please cite your source(s) when uploading graphs as images. The citation can be added to the description on the image's page.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ This convention was documented at the now-defunct WikiProject Clinical medicine,[1] and was the result of several discussions in 2004.[2][3][4]
  2. ^ Arguments for and against eponyms, plus background information, can be read at the List of eponymous diseases.
  3. ^ Examples of original research include counting Google or PubMed results, comparing the size or relevance of the varieties of English, and quoting from personal or professional experience.
  4. ^ Templates for deletion: Medical
  5. ^ DrugBank IDs follow the format APRDxxxxx, and may be found in the page's URL.
  6. ^ HUGO IDs follow the format hgnc_id=xxxx, and may also be found in the page's URL.
  7. ^ Delaney, Robert (November 8, 2006). "AMA Citation Style, American Medical Association Manual of Style" (9th ed.). Long Island University C.W. Post Campus, B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library. Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  8. ^ "International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Sample References". MEDLINE/Pubmed Resources. United States National Library of Medicine. Retrieved 2009-10-08.