TIME Research

Don’t Trust Wikipedia When It Comes to Your Health, Study Says

Researchers found errors and inaccurate assertions in 9 out of 10 Wikipedia entries on the costliest medical conditions

A new study has found that Wikipedia entries on the costliest medical conditions contradicted the latest medical research 90% of the time.

A team of U.S. scientists said they found “many errors” in Wikipedia articles concerning the 10 costliest medical conditions. The researchers cross-checked Wikipedia entries on coronary disease, lung cancer, hypertension and back pain, among other ailments, against the latest research from peer-reviewed journals.

Nine out of 10 entries analyzed on the crowd-sourced encyclopedia contained assertions that were contradicted by the peer-reviewed sources. Only the entry on concussions escaped the review error free. The authors noted that the article appeared to have contributors with a greater degree of expertise, mimicking the peer-reviewed process.

“Health care professionals, trainees, and patients should use caution when using Wikipedia to answer questions regarding patient care,” wrote the study’s authors in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

The authors laid particular stress on medical professionals; a recent study found that 50 percent of physicians admitted using Wikipedia as a reference source.

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