BACKGROUND: Wikipedia is one of the most consulted health resources in the world. Since the public is using health information from Wikipedia to make health care decisions, improving the quality of that health information is in the public interest. The open editable content design of Wikipedia and quality control processes in place provide an opportunity to add high-value, evidence-based information and take an active role in improving the health care information infrastructure.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this project was to enhance Wikipedia health pages using high-quality, current research findings and track the persistence of those edits and number of page views after the changes to assess the reach of this initiative.
METHODS: We conducted Wikipedia Editathons with 3 different cohorts of Physical Therapy (PT) students to add high-quality health information to existing Wikipedia pages. Students synthesized best evidence information and updated and/or corrected existing Wikipedia entries on specific health pages. To evaluate the impact of these contributions, we examined two factors: (1) response to our contributions from the Wikipedia editing community, including number and type of subsequent edits as well as persistence of the student contributions and (2) number of page views by the public from the time of the page edits.
RESULTS: A total of 98 PT students in 3 different cohorts engaged in Editathons, editing 24 health pages. Of the 24 edits, 22 persisted at the end of the observation period (from time of entry to May 31, 2018) and received nearly 8 million page views. Each health page had an average of 354,724 page views.
CONCLUSIONS: The Wikipedia Editathon is an effective way to continuously enhance the quality of health information available on Wikipedia. It is also an excellent way of bridging health technology with best-evidence medical facts and disseminating accurate, useful information to the public.
Weiner, S. S., Horbacewicz, J., Rasberry, L., & Bensinger-Brody, Y. (2019). Improving the quality of consumer health information on wikipedia: Case series. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(3), [Article e12450].
Originally published in Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(3), [Article e12450]. The original material can be found here.
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