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Wikipedia Medicine Science

Wikipedia Medical Articles Found To Have High Error Rate 200

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 Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <gaygirlie@Nospam.hotmail.com> on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @11:58AM (#47099953) Homepage

    Using percentages when speaking of a sample size of...god damn 10 conditions....is just really effing stupid and looks like it was specifically meant as click-baiting. The honest way of saying this would have been simply "The researchers sampled 10 conditions on Wikipedia and found that 9 of them were incorrect." See? No alarmist "90%omgomgworld'sgoingtoburn" bullshit there.

    Now, call me back when the sample size is actually worth a damn. 10 conditions out of all the bajillion different ones mentioned on Wikipedia is simply too little to draw any sort of meaningful rule about the quality of them all.

  • Re:Osteopath cred? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @12:02PM (#47099985) Homepage

    Mod parent up. This is from a group of osteopaths. Here's what Wikpedia has to say about osteopathy:

    (Osteopaths) believe that their treatments, which primarily consist of moving, stretching and massaging a personâ(TM)s muscles and joints, help allow the body to heal itself.

    As with all forms of complementary and alternative medicine, the practice of osteopathy does not always adhere to evidence-based medicine (EBM). There are few high-quality research studies demonstrating that osteopathy is effective in treating any medical condition other than lower back pain.[2][3] In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends osteopathy for the treatment of persistent lower back pain.[4] However, analysis of peer-reviewed research yields little evidence that osteopathy is effective for non-musculoskeletal conditions, and limited evidence that osteopathy is an effective treatment for some types of neck pain, shoulder pain, or limb pain.

    No wonder they're unhappy with Wikipedia.

    Now if Cell or JAMA or The New England Journal of Medicine complained about Wikipedia, that would be worthy of note.

  • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @12:06PM (#47100011)

    From Wikipedia (sic):
    "As with all forms of complementary and alternative medicine, the practice of osteopathy does not always adhere to evidence-based medicine (EBM). "

    Pot... Kettle... Black

  • by danlip ( 737336 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @12:12PM (#47100059)

    Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica [cnet.com] - published by Nature [nature.com], not Anonymous Coward.

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @12:17PM (#47100097)

    Anyone care to guess how many of those "inaccuracies" they cite involve criticisms of quackery like osteopathy?

  • by FridayBob ( 619244 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @12:32PM (#47100231) Homepage
    For a few years I maintained a sizeable collection of Wikipedia articles. I was very meticulous in checking all of the data, trying to use only the best sources and citing them all, per section of each sentence if necessary. However, it was a constant battle to keep others from adding anything from dubious information found in newspaper articles ("Somebody printed it, so it must be true!") to subtle attempts at vandalism (e.g. changing 501 mg to 502 mg for no reason). Many poor articles are eventually raised up to a certain level, but over time the good ones are also erroded to a point where they contain many more errors than expected. Other than relying on armies of experts (who often receive little respect) to constantly police their articles, Wikipedia has no mechanisms to prevent this from happening. It's a fundamental problem for them, but one which they can do little about without changing their most basic policies.
  • News Flash... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @12:53PM (#47100459)

    ...Many articles published in medical journals are also wrong. What about the never-ending debate about X being good for you, then bad, then good again, where X = coffee, butter, etc.?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @03:07PM (#47101661)

    I don't think they were ever accepted as practicing physicians.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_of_Osteopathic_Medicine#International_practice_rights [wikipedia.org]

    Since the table of nations that do accept US licensed DOs as practicing physicians is published by AOA, I think we may safely assume that they don't believe it is an error.

    Osteopathy is a sect within Western medicine. As such it harbors a slightly higher percentage of quacks. Otherwise it is, as you say, indistinguishable from traditional medical practice.

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