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Wikipedia Medicine Science

Wikipedia Medical Articles Found To Have High Error Rate 200

Posted by timothy
from the frequently-transpose-black-and-yellow-bile dept.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "A group of researchers publishing in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that 90% of the Wikipedia articles they sampled contained errors regarding common medical conditions. Unsurprisingly, they recommend your General Practitioner as a more reliable source, while noting, '47% to 70% of physicians and medical students admitting to using [Wikipedia] as a reference.' At issue in the study is the small sample size the researchers used: 10 medical conditions. There are also ongoing efforts to improve the quality of Wikipedia's articles. According to a Wikipedia spokesman, '... especially in relation to health and medicine.' The BBC has more approachable coverage."
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Wikipedia Medical Articles Found To Have High Error Rate

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  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @11:40AM (#47099803)
    I am shocked. Shocked. No one would use a widely accessed platform to push a POV nor would it be adequately vetted by professionals for accuracy and completeness and edits limited to trusted sources. Add in that their are many more people who think they are experts that aren't and it is a wonder that Wikipedia's accuracy is above 0%.
  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @11:50AM (#47099895) Homepage

    No controls. I am going to hazard a bet that if they did this to Web MD, Mayo Clinic or any one of the innumerable other lay accessible web sites, they would get similar results. Given that even the '10 most expensive medical conditions in the country' are not fully explained, categorized or treated having different interpretations or different recommendations is hardly surprising.

    Even with professionally sourced and vetted resources you will find differences of opinion. Hell, even the 'reference' documents on a particular condition have differing conclusions depending on whose writing them and who won the argument in the committee.

    To a first approximation, everything you know is wrong. Take it from there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @11:51AM (#47099899)

    I am a physician, and I admit that I use it on an irregular basis. But let's keep this in context. I don't look up how to diagnose or treat conditions. I do use it to look up obscure things, as well as review anatomy. Information that either is just for personal knowledge that is not critical to management (example: what is the name of the nerve that innervates the serratus anterior?), or information that is hard to get wrong (example: what are the muscles of the knee called? I once had to look up VMO because I could not remember what the "O" stood for). Even then, if it makes even a small difference, I always look it up further in a medical resource. So I am one of the 47-70% of physicians who look up facts in wikipedia. I don't think that is a bad thing.

  • by Archtech (159117) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @12:39PM (#47100317)

    The situation seems analogous to that of a journalist and/or photographer reporting on a disaster in which people are hurt or killed. It is often said that they would help more if they dropped their notebooks and cameras and pitched in to help rescuers. But then no one would be doing the presumably useful job of recording events.

    The researchers in this case were trying to establish the accuracy of Wikipedia articles. Simultaneously editing would be both a distraction and a conflict of interest - much like moderating and contributing to the same Slashdot thread.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @12:45PM (#47100379) Journal

    They're full medical-type doctors. They had some ancient history related to bone and joint manipulation, but that's now like a barber's pole having the red swirl because they used to do bloodletting.

    They do everything including up through cardiology and cardio-thoracic surgery with the exact same training and science-based medicine. I've been to DOs a lot more than MDs.

    There should be no daylight between an MD and a DO on treatment.

  • I am a physician... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tpjunkie (911544) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @01:15PM (#47100619) Journal
    in residency, and yes, from time to time I'll look up something on wikipedia on my phone for a quick overview if its a condition I'm not familiar with, or is outside my specialty, and I'm rounding or otherwise away from a computer. However, I don't use it for treatment or diagnostic purposes; there exist much better, peer reviewed sources for that, which I will happily access from a computer. That being said, I'd say a large amount of the wikipedia articles tend to be pretty decent, and at least sound as if they've been written by someone with some sort of formal medical treatment. They get the quick and dirty job done about 75% of the time for me.

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