Wikipedia Articles on Medical Conditions Riddled With Errors
Health care professionals, trainees and patients should use caution when using Wikipedia to answer questions on patient care, a report concludes.The world’s most popular general reference site on the Internet, Wikipedia, may be helpful for users trying to find basic information on a wide variety of topics, but when it comes to health and health care entries, people should probably look elsewhere, according to a study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. The study, conducted by two medical students, involved selecting Wikipedia articles for diseases identified as most costly for the health care system by the Agency for Healthcare Reform and Quality (AHRQ), which were then compared with the information found in up-to-date, peer-reviewed journals. In fact, the report found nine out of 10 of the Wikipedia articles had statistically significant discrepancies compared with the information found in professional journals. The 10 most costly conditions in the United States by public and private expenditure in 2008—the year that the most complete data were available for the present study—were identified from the publicly available database from the AHRQ.
The organization lists heart disease, cancer, mental disorders, trauma-related disorders, osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/asthma, hypertension, diabetes, back problems, and hyperlipidemia as the 10 costliest medical conditions.