Wikipedia is widely used and loved, without question. US research indicates that 9 out of 10 health-related entries on the Wikipedia online encyclopedia selected for review contain statements which are “contradicted” by recent medical research. Medicine is a quickly evolving field, riddled with frequently disputed and contrary viewpoints, of course; so complete consensus could hardly be expected. The authors of this research caution that the public at large, but health workers and medical students in particular, might be encouraged to use this reference resource only with an awareness of such potential limitations and omissions.
Stephens, P. (2014). Trust your doctor, not Wikipedia, say scientists. London: BBC Health News, May 28th 2014.
This research is investigated further by an NHS Choices Behind the Headlines appraisal:
Wikipedia ‘not a reliable source’ of health advice. London: NHS Choices Behind the Headlines, May 28th 2014.
This relates to:
Hasty, RT. Garbalosa, RC. [and] Barbato, VA. [et al] (2014). Wikipedia vs. peer-reviewed medical literature for information about the 10 most costly medical conditions. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. May 2014, Vol.114(5), pp.368-73. (Click here to view the PubMed abstract).
Global Disease-Forecasting Systems for the Early Prediction of Epidemics?
Possibly of interest, a US team from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, writing in the journal PLoS Computational Biology, found that there is an association between Wikipedia page views for certain communicable diseases (such as influenza) and the actual declared disease outbreaks; but possibly four weeks earlier than health officials working for national health surveillance teams typically declare the related outbreaks.
Wikipedia ‘foresees virus outbreaks’. London: BBC Health News, November 14th 2014.
This relates to:
Generous, N. Fairchild, G. [and] Deshpande, A. [et al] (2014). Global disease monitoring and forecasting with Wikipedia. PLoS Computational Biology. November 13th 2014, 10(11): e1003892.