Wiki-Surgery? Internal validity of Wikipedia as a medical and surgical reference

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Wiki-Surgery? Internal validity of Wikipedia as a medical and surgical reference is a 2007 journal article written in English by Lara Devgan, Neil Powe, Brittony Blakey, Martin Makary and published in Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

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Wiki-Surgery? Internal validity of Wikipedia as a medical and surgical reference is a 2007 journal article by L Devgan, N Powe, B Blakey, M Makary and published in Journal of the American College of Surgeons, , Issue 3, Supplement 1, September 2007, Pages S76-S77.

[edit] Abstract

With the burgeoning popularity of the internet, patients are increasingly using web-based search engines to learn about their medical and surgical problems. Wikipedia® is the world’s 12th most popular website and the most widely read of such sources. Despite Wikipedia®’s popularity, little is known about the accuracy of its health-related content. We identified Wikipedia® entries for the most commonly performed inpatient procedures in the U.S., as defined by the National Center for Health Statistics. Each article was evaluated by two independent reviewers to determine quantitative metrics of quality (number of edits, unique editors, and references) and evidence of qualitative rigor (accuracy, completeness, discussion of indications and risks, and suitability for patients). Statistical analysis was performed using STATA 9.0. Thirty-nine procedures were identified, of which 89.7% (n=35) were indexed on Wikipedia®. The vast majority of Wikipedia® articles (85.7%, n=30) were deemed appropriate for patients. Overall, 100% (n=35) presented accurate content, although only 62.9% (n=22) were free of critical omissions. Most entries addressed procedure indications (97.1%, n=34), while significantly fewer discussed risks (62.9%, n=22). Interestingly, there was a correlation between an entry’s quality and how often it was edited. Wikipedia® is an accurate though often incomplete medical reference, with a remarkably high level of internal validity. Given the correlation between the quality of a Wikipedia® entry and its editorial frequency, the participation of medical and surgical professionals in authoring Wikipedia® entries may improve their quality and keep patients more informed.

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