Health information on Wikipedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has, since the late 2000s, served as a popular source for health information for both laypersons and, in many cases, health care practitioners. Health-related articles on Wikipedia are popularly accessed as results from search engines, which frequently deliver links to Wikipedia articles.[1] Independent assessments have been made of the number and demographics of people who seek health information on Wikipedia, the scope of health information on Wikipedia, and the quality of the information on Wikipedia.[2]

The English-language Wikipedia was estimated in 2014 to hold around 25,000 articles on health-related topics.[3] Across Wikipedia encyclopedias in all languages there were 155,000 health articles using 950,000 citations to sources and which collectively received 4.8 billion pageviews in 2013.[4] This amount of traffic makes Wikipedia one of the most consulted health resources in the world, or perhaps the most consulted resource.[4]

Accuracy and usefulness of content[edit]

Academic studies[edit]

A 2007 study examined a sample of Wikipedia pages about the most frequently performed surgical procedures in the United States, and found that 85.7% of them were appropriate for patients and that these articles had "a remarkably high level of internal validity".[5] However, the same study also raised concerns about Wikipedia's completeness, noting that only 62.9% of the articles examined were free of "critical omissions".[5]

A 2008 study reported that drug information on Wikipedia "has a more narrow scope, is less complete, and has more errors of omission" than did such information on the traditionally edited online database Medscape Drug Reference.[6]

A 2011 assessment of 50 medical articles on Wikipedia found that 56% of the references cited on these pages could be considered reputable, and that each entry contained 29 reputable sources on average.[7]

A 2011 study examined Wikipedia pages about five statins, and concluded that these pages did not contain incorrect or misleading information, but that they were often missing information about drug interactions and contraindications to use.[8]

Another 2011 study examining Wikipedia articles on the 20 most widely prescribed drugs found that seven of these articles did not have any references, and concluded that "Wikipedia does not provide consistently accurate, complete, and referenced medication information."[9]

An assessment of Wikipedia articles in 2012 on dietary supplements found that Wikipedia articles were "frequently incomplete, of variable quality, and sometimes inconsistent with reputable sources of information on these products."[10]

A 2013 review of nephrology content on Wikipedia found it to be "a comprehensive and fairly reliable medical resource for nephrology patients that is written at a college reading level".[11]

A 2013 scoping review published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research summarized the existing evidence about the use of wikis, Wikipedia and other collaborative writing applications in health care and found that the available research publications were observational reports rather than the primary research studies which would be necessary to begin drawing conclusions.[12]

A 2014 study that examined 97 Wikipedia articles about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) found that 4% of them had attained "Good article" status, and that CAM articles on Wikipedia tended to be significantly shorter than those about conventional therapies.[13]

In May 2014 the The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association published an article which concluded that "Most Wikipedia articles for the 10 costliest conditions in the United States contain errors compared with standard peer-reviewed sources."[14][15] Following this paper, many other media sources reported that readers should not trust Wikipedia for medical information.[16][17][18][19] Wikipedia's contributors to its health content defended Wikipedia and criticized this study.[20]

A 2014 study found that when the FDA issues new safety warnings about drugs, in 41% of cases reviewed Wikipedia articles about those drugs were updated to give the new safety information within two weeks.[21] Another 23% of Wikipedia drug articles were updated to give this information within an average of about 40 days, but 36% of articles are not updated with this information within a year.[21]

A 2014 comparison between selected drug information from pharmacology textbooks and comparable information on the English-language and German-language Wikipedias found that the drug information in Wikipedia covers most of what is essential for undergraduate pharmacology studies and that it is accurate.[22]

The readability of Wikipedia's articles for epilepsy and Parkinson's disease was critiqued and found to be difficult to read.[23][24] Another study found that Wikipedia's information about neurological diseases was significantly more difficult to read than the information in the American Academy of Neurology's patient brochures, the Mayo Clinic's website, or MedlinePlus.[25] Another study reported that Wikipedia should not be used to learn about concepts related to pulmonology students.[26]

Other views[edit]

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has said that lack of health information increases preventable deaths in emerging markets and that health information from Wikipedia can improve community health.[27] Wales presented the Wikipedia Zero project as a channel for delivering health information into places where people have difficulty accessing online information.[27]

People who promote alternative medicine have complained that Wikipedia negatively portrays holistic health treatments including energy medicine, Emotional Freedom Techniques, Thought Field Therapy and Tapas Acupressure Technique.[28] In response, Wales has stated, "If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals – that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately."[28][29][30] Similar concerns have been raised regarding its coverage of homeopathy.[31]

As a result of public interest in the 2014 Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa, Wikipedia became a popular source of information on Ebola.[32] Doctors who were Wikipedia contributors said that Wikipedia's quality made it useful.[32]

Extent of usage[edit]

The majority of people in the United States use the internet as a source of health information.[33] One 2013 study suggested that 22% of healthcare searches online direct users to Wikipedia.[34]

Wikipedia was described in 2014 as "the leading single source of healthcare information for patients and healthcare professionals".[35] A study of a particular group of veterinary students found that the majority of these students sought and found medical information on Wikipedia.[36] Some doctors have described their use of Wikipedia as a "guilty secret".[37]

Wikipedia's health information has been described as "transforming how our next doctors learn medicine".[38] Various commentators in health education have said that Wikipedia is popular among medical students.[39][40]

Academic citations[edit]

Wikipedia has been inappropriately cited as an authoritative source in many health science journals.[41][42]

Impact on psychological tests[edit]

In 2009 a doctor and Wikipedia editor, James Heilman, incorporated public domain images of the Rorschach test into Wikipedia.[43] Psychologists complained that the increased public exposure to these tests devalued their clinical utility, and that public health was harmed as a result.[43]

Nature of contributors[edit]

A 2014 interview study found that around half of the editors of health-related content on the English-language Wikipedia are health care professionals, while the other half includes some medical students.[3] An author of this study wrote that this provides "reassurance about the reliability of the website".[3] The study also found that the "core editor community", who actively monitor and edit most health-related articles on the English-language Wikipedia, numbered around 300 people.[44] The study found that people who contribute on these topics do so for a variety of reasons, including a desire to better learn the subjects themselves, and a sense of both responsibility and enjoyment in improving others' access to health information.[44]

Usage of traffic statistics in health monitoring[edit]

Just as Google Flu Trends was able to correlate searches for flu to local outbreaks of flu, page views of Wikipedia articles on flu-related topics have been found to increase in populations experiencing the spread of flu,[45][46] and of other diseases such as dengue fever and tuberculosis.[47][48]

Projects to improve health information on Wikipedia[edit]

In 2009 the National Institutes of Health attempted a pilot project for integrating health information into Wikipedia.[49] In 2011, it was reported that Cancer Research UK had started a program whereby some of its staff would edit Wikipedia's cancer-related articles.[50]

The University of California, San Francisco has a program for encouraging students to contribute health content to Wikipedia.[51]

In response to studies showing that the majority of patients and providers use the Internet to find health information,[52][53] the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Library developed a New Media Primer to increase the skills of health care providers in using social media to share information on public health.[54] A 2012 article from Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario described the development of a disease-specific primer for providers and patients guiding both to the highest quality and most reliable new media sites.[55]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Laurent, M. R.; Vickers, T. J. (2009). "Seeking Health Information Online: Does Wikipedia Matter?". Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 16 (4): 471–479. doi:10.1197/jamia.M3059. PMC 2705249. PMID 19390105.  edit
  2. ^ Heilman, James M; Kemmann, Eckhard; Bonert, Michael; Chatterjee, Anwesh; Ragar, Brent; Beards, Graham M; Iberri, David J; Harvey, Matthew; Thomas, Brendan (2011-01-31). "Wikipedia: A Key Tool for Global Public Health Promotion". Journal of Medical Internet Research 13 (1): e14. doi:10.2196/jmir.1589. PMC 3221335. PMID 21282098. 
  3. ^ a b c Faric, Nusa (December 5, 2014). "Around half of Wikipedia’s medical editors are experts". Wikimedia Blog. 
  4. ^ a b Heilman, James M; West, Andrew G (2015). "Wikipedia and Medicine: Quantifying Readership, Editors, and the Significance of Natural Language". Journal of Medical Internet Research 17 (3): e62. doi:10.2196/jmir.4069. ISSN 1438-8871. 
  5. ^ a b Devgan, Lara; Powe, Neil; Blakey, Brittony; Makary, Martin (September 2007). "Wiki-Surgery? Internal validity of Wikipedia as a medical and surgical reference". Journal of the American College of Surgeons 205 (3): S76–S77. doi:10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2007.06.190. 
  6. ^ Clauson, K. A; Polen, H. H; Boulos, M. N K.; Dzenowagis, J. H (18 November 2008). "Scope, Completeness, and Accuracy of Drug Information in Wikipedia". Annals of Pharmacotherapy 42 (12): 1814–1821. doi:10.1345/aph.1L474. PMID 19017825. 
  7. ^ Haigh, CA (February 2011). "Wikipedia as an evidence source for nursing and healthcare students.". Nurse education today 31 (2): 135–9. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2010.05.004. PMID 20646799. 
  8. ^ Kupferberg, N; Protus, BM (October 2011). "Accuracy and completeness of drug information in Wikipedia: an assessment.". Journal of the Medical Library Association : JMLA 99 (4): 310–3. doi:10.3163/1536-5050.99.4.010. PMID 22022226. 
  9. ^ Lavsa, Stacey M.; Corman, Shelby L.; Culley, Colleen M.; Pummer, Tara L. (April 2011). "Reliability of Wikipedia as a medication information source for pharmacy students". Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning 3 (2): 154–158. doi:10.1016/j.cptl.2011.01.007. 
  10. ^ Phillips, Jennifer; Lam, Connie; Palmisano, Lisa (2014). "Analysis of the accuracy and readability of herbal supplement information on Wikipedia". Journal of the American Pharmacists Association 54 (4): 406. doi:10.1331/JAPhA.2014.13181. ISSN 1544-3191. 
  11. ^ Thomas, G. R.; Eng, L.; De Wolff, J. F.; Grover, S. C. (2013). "An Evaluation of Wikipedia as a Resource for Patient Education in Nephrology". Seminars in Dialysis 26 (2): 159–63. doi:10.1111/sdi.12059. PMID 23432369.  edit
  12. ^ Archambault, Patrick M; Belt, Tom H van de; III, Francisco J Grajales; Faber, Marjan J; Kuziemsky, Craig E; Gagnon, Susie; Bilodeau, Andrea; Rioux, Simon; Nelen, Willianne LDM (2013-10-08). "Wikis and Collaborative Writing Applications in Health Care: A Scoping Review". Journal of Medical Internet Research 15 (10): e210. doi:10.2196/jmir.2787. PMC 3929050. PMID 24103318. 
  13. ^ Koo, Malcolm (2014). "Complementary and Alternative Medicine on Wikipedia: Opportunities for Improvement". Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014: 1–4. doi:10.1155/2014/105186. PMID 24864148. 
  14. ^ Hasty, Robert; Garvalosa, Ryan; Barbato, Vincenzo; Valdes, Pedro; Powers, David; Hernandez, Emmanuel; John, Jones; Suciu, Gabriel; Qureshi, Farheen; Popa-Radu, Matei; San Jose, Sergio; Drexler, Nathaniel; Patankar, Rohan; Paz, Jose; King, Christopher; Gerber, Hilary; Valladares, Michael; Somji, Alyaz (2014). "Wikipedia vs Peer-Reviewed Medical Literature for Information About the 10 Most Costly Medical Conditions". The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 114 (05): 368–373. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2014.035. ISSN 0098-6151. PMID 24778001. 
  15. ^ Hasty, Robert (8 May 2014). "Dr. Robert Hasty - Wikipedia vs. Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles". youtube.com. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  16. ^ Stephens, Pippa (28 May 2014). "Trust your doctor, not Wikipedia, say scientists". bbc.com. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  17. ^ Kedmey, Dan (27 May 2014). "Don’t Trust Wikipedia When It Comes to Your Health, Study Says". time.com. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  18. ^ Gagnon, Tiffany (28 May 2014). "Are Wikipedia Health Tips Making You Sick?". Men's Fitness. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  19. ^ Dillner, Luisa (1 June 2014). "Is Wikipedia a reliable source for medical advice?". theguardian.com. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  20. ^ Chatterjee, Anwesh; Cooke, Robin M.T.; Furst, Ian; Heilman, James (23 June 2014). "Is Wikipedia’s medical content really 90% wrong?". cochrane.org. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  21. ^ a b Hwang, Thomas J.; Bourgeois, Florence T.; Seeger, John D. (2014). "Drug Safety in the Digital Age". New England Journal of Medicine 370 (26): 2460–2462. doi:10.1056/NEJMp1401767. ISSN 0028-4793. 
  22. ^ Kräenbring, Jona; Monzon Penza, Tika; Gutmann, Joanna; Muehlich, Susanne; Zolk, Oliver; Wojnowski, Leszek; Maas, Renke; Engelhardt, Stefan; Sarikas, Antonio (2014-09-24). "Accuracy and Completeness of Drug Information in Wikipedia: A Comparison with Standard Textbooks of Pharmacology". PLoS ONE 9 (9): e106930. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106930. PMC 4174509. PMID 25250889. 
  23. ^ Brigo, F; Erro, R (18 January 2015). "The readability of the English Wikipedia article on Parkinson's disease.". Neurological sciences : official journal of the Italian Neurological Society and of the Italian Society of Clinical Neurophysiology. doi:10.1007/s10072-015-2077-5. PMID 25596713. 
  24. ^ Brigo, F; Otte, WM; Igwe, SC; Tezzon, F; Nardone, R (16 January 2015). "Clearly written, easily comprehended? The readability of websites providing information on epilepsy.". Epilepsy & behavior : E&B 44C: 35–39. doi:10.1016/j.yebeh.2014.12.029. PMID 25601720. 
  25. ^ Punia, Vineet; Dagar, Anjali; Agarwal, Nitin; He, Wenzhuan; Hillen, Machteld (December 2014). "Comparison of neurological healthcare oriented educational resources for patients on the internet". Journal of Clinical Neuroscience 21 (12): 2179–2183. doi:10.1016/j.jocn.2014.05.043. 
  26. ^ Azer, Samy A. (2015). "Is Wikipedia a reliable learning resource for medical students? Evaluating respiratory topics". Advances in Physiology Education 39 (1): 5–14. doi:10.1152/advan.00110.2014. ISSN 1043-4046. 
  27. ^ a b Williams-Grut, Oscar (3 October 2014). "Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales: 'Free Wiki could save thousands of lives'". The Independent (London: INM). ISSN 0951-9467. OCLC 185201487. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  28. ^ a b Sifferlin, Alexandra (25 March 2014). "Wikipedia Founder Sticks It To ‘Lunatic’ Holistic Healers". Time (magazine). Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  29. ^ Hay Newman, Lily (March 27, 2014) Jimmy Wales Gets Real, and Sassy, About Wikipedia's Holistic Healing Coverage, Slate (magazine) Retrieved November 23, 2014
  30. ^ ACEP's Position Statement on Wikipedia energypsych.org Retrieved November 23, 2014
  31. ^ Ullman, Dana (October 10, 2014). "Dysfunction at Wikipedia on Homeopathic Medicine". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 23, 2014. 
  32. ^ a b Cohen, Noam (26 October 2014). "Wikipedia Emerges as Trusted Internet Source for Ebola Information". The New York Times (New York: NYTC). ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  33. ^ Fox S, Jones S. The social life of health information Washington, DC: Pew Internet and American Life Project; 11 Jun 2009 [cited 6 Oct 2010]. p. http://www.pewInternet.org/Reports/2009/8-The-Social-Life-of-Health-Information.aspx
  34. ^ Makovsky Health (9 September 2013). "Online Health Research Eclipsing Patient-Doctor Conversations - Makovsky". makovsky.com. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  35. ^ Note - sketchy link requires registration. IMS Health (2014). "The use of Wikipedia in Health Care". Engaging patients through social media Is healthcare ready for empowered and digitally demanding patients?. IMS Health. pp. 16–26. Retrieved 22 January 2014.  Further cited in
  36. ^ Kolski, D; Arlt, S; Birk, S; Heuwieser, W (2013). "Use and acceptance of Wiki systems for students of veterinary medicine". GMS Zeitschrift fur medizinische Ausbildung 30 (1): Doc10. doi:10.3205/zma000853. PMC 3589678. PMID 23467415. 
  37. ^ Godlee, F. (27 March 2014). "Unethical, a guilty secret, and still crazy after all these years". BMJ 348 (mar27 1): g2396–g2396. doi:10.1136/bmj.g2396. 
  38. ^ Morris, Nathaniel P. (18 November 2013). "Wikipedia's role in medical education brings awesome promise — and a few risks". bostonglobe.com. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  39. ^ Allahwala, Usaid K.; Nadkarni, Aniket; Sebaratnam, Deshan F. (2013). "Wikipedia use amongst medical students – New insights into the digital revolution". Medical Teacher 35 (4): 337–337. doi:10.3109/0142159X.2012.737064. ISSN 0142-159X. 
  40. ^ Teunis, Teun (March 2013). "The Wikipedia Guide to Medicine Could the Online Encyclopaedia Provide the Basis for a New Medical School Curriculum?". Student BMJ 21: 16–17. doi:10.1136/sbmj.f1091. 
  41. ^ Bould, M. D.; Hladkowicz, E. S.; Pigford, A.-A. E.; Ufholz, L.-A.; Postonogova, T.; Shin, E.; Boet, S. (6 March 2014). "References that anyone can edit: review of Wikipedia citations in peer reviewed health science literature". BMJ 348 (mar05 4): g1585–g1585. doi:10.1136/bmj.g1585. 
  42. ^ Blackwell, Tom (12 March 2014). "‘It’s against all principles of scientific reporting’: Thousands of medical papers cite Wikipedia, study says". National Post. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  43. ^ a b
  44. ^ a b Farič, Nuša; Potts, Henry WW (2014). "Motivations for Contributing to Health-Related Articles on Wikipedia: An Interview Study". Journal of Medical Internet Research 16 (12): e260. doi:10.2196/jmir.3569. ISSN 1438-8871. 
  45. ^ McIver, David J.; Brownstein, John S.; Salathé, Marcel (17 April 2014). "Wikipedia Usage Estimates Prevalence of Influenza-Like Illness in the United States in Near Real-Time". PLoS Computational Biology 10 (4): e1003581. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003581. PMC 3990502. PMID 24743682. 
  46. ^ none listed (3 November 2014). "How Wikipedia Data Is Revolutionizing Flu Forecasting". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  47. ^ Generous, Nicholas; Fairchild, Geoffrey; Deshpande, Alina; Del Valle, Sara Y.; Priedhorsky, Reid; Salathé, Marcel (13 November 2014). "Global Disease Monitoring and Forecasting with Wikipedia". PLoS Computational Biology 10 (11): e1003892. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003892. PMID 25392913. 
  48. ^ "Wikipedia 'foresees virus outbreaks'". BBC News. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  49. ^
  50. ^ "Cancer charity 'tidies' Wikipedia". BBC News. 4 April 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  51. ^
  52. ^ Moorhead, SA; Hazlett, DE; Harrison, L et al. (2013). "A new dimension of health care: systematic review of the uses, benefits, and limitations of social media for health communication". Journal of medical Internet research 15 (4): e85. doi:10.2196/jmir.1933. PMC 3636326. PMID 23615206. 
  53. ^ Huang, GJ; Penson, DF (2008). "Internet health resources and the cancer patient". Cancer Investigation 26 (2): 202–207. doi:10.1080/07357900701566197. PMID 18259953. 
  54. ^ "New Media Primer for Health Professionals". Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  55. ^ Fortinsky, KJ; Fournier, MR; Benchimol, E (2012). "Internet and electronic resources for inflammatory bowel disease: a primer for providers and patients". Inflammatory Bowel Disease 18 (6): 1156–63. doi:10.1002/ibd.22834. PMID 22147497.