Analysis of the accuracy and readability of herbal supplement information on Wikipedia

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Analysis of the accuracy and readability of herbal supplement information on Wikipedia is a 2014 journal article written in English by Phillips J., Lam C., Palmisano L. and published in Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.

[edit] Abstract

Objective: To determine the completeness and readability of information found in Wikipedia for leading dietary supplements and assess the accuracy of this information with regard to safety (including use during pregnancy/lactation), contraindications, drug interactions, therapeutic uses, and dosing. Design: Cross-sectional analysis of Wikipedia articles. Interventions: The contents of Wikipedia articles for the 19 top-selling herbal supplements were retrieved on July 24, 2012, and evaluated for organization, content, accuracy (as compared with information in two leading dietary supplement references) and readability. Main Outcome Measures: Accuracy of Wikipedia articles. Results: No consistency was noted in how much information was included in each Wikipedia article, how the information was organized, what major categories were used, and where safety and therapeutic information was located in the article. All articles in Wikipedia contained information on therapeutic uses and adverse effects but several lacked information on drug interactions, pregnancy, and contraindications. Wikipedia articles had 26%-75% of therapeutic uses and 76%-100% of adverse effects listed in the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database and/or Natural Standard. Overall, articles were written at a 13.5-grade level, and all were at a ninth-grade level or above. Conclusion: Articles in Wikipedia in mid-2012 for the 19 top-selling herbal supplements were frequently incomplete, of variable quality, and sometimes inconsistent with reputable sources of information on these products. Safety information was particularly inconsistent among the articles. Patients and health professionals should not rely solely on Wikipedia for information on these herbal supplements when treatment decisions are being made.

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