Wikipedia used by 70% of junior physicians, dominates search results for health queries

Study: Junior physician's use of Web 2.0 for information seeking and medical education:

Google and Wikipedia used by 80% and 70% of physicians, respectively http://is.gd/1oQky

Wikipedia is a prominent source of online health information compared to the other online health info providers studied. Wikipedia ranked among first ten results in 71–85% of search engines and medical keywords tested. In search tests, "Wikipedia surpassed MedlinePlus and NHS Direct Online and ranked higher with quality articles" http://bit.ly/39Xq8k

I didn't understand why @Berci spent so much time editing medical articles in Wikipedia. Now I know and it has obviously made an impact.

Also, I have dismissed Wikipedia as a medical resource until so many residents reported using it during the NEJM Horizons conference in October 2008.

Observation: Just look around you in computer section of medical library of any university & see how many students check Wikipedia. Whether we like or not (and I haven't for a long time), medical students use Wikipedia (a lot) http://bit.ly/39Xq8k

Do you think any medical encyclopedia (@medpedia, AskDrWiki) has any sustainable future facing Wikipedia headstart?

Twitter opinions:

@chrisseper: "One way to lose confidence in a doc. Ask a medical question and see the doc go online & find the answer via Wikipedia."

@palmdoc: "Would anyone lose confidence in a Doc who looks up Google? I'd be worried if they don't know how to Google."

Related:
Web 2.0 for Emergency Physicians http://bit.ly/uFnA0 - A must read. Applies to all physicians. Recommended.
The Trouble with Wikipedia as a Source for Medical Information. Laika’s MedLibLog.
Wikipedia: A Key Tool for Global Public Health Promotion (review article)
Is Wikipedia a reliable learning resource for medical students? No, according to Advances in Physiology Education http://buff.ly/1A48e9Q
Image source: Doctors Using Google by Philipp Lenssen, used with permission.

4 comments:

  1. I do think a wikihuman or similar could have a chance because the user interface for current wikis is so dull. So much more could be done. Also, all these collaborative communities, like those in the real world, are dependent on the rules of the bodies that create them. What rules would you enforce for the ideal medical wiki or wiki human? What would be the best interface for education and/or reference? How could a wiki mimic how good docs THINK about medicine?

    Question is why? students use wikipedia. I presume it is because the information is generally in one place, rapidly searchable, comprehensive and "good enough."

    The authoritative bodies, should get involved to create something similar, but it would be hard, if not impossible, to organize. To many competing agendas, and wikis already have that component.

    Nice thing about wikis, if you don't like what's out there, you can be like @berci, and change it. You likely won't change users efficient and "good enough" habits for using the precious little time they have to get information to make a decision.

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  2. Thank you for your comment.

    "Question is why? students use wikipedia. I presume it is because the information is generally in one place, rapidly searchable, comprehensive and "good enough."

    Yes, this is the general perception. Also, Wikipedia is free. If UpToDate were free, not many med student would go to Wikipedia... :)

    "Nice thing about wikis, if you don't like what's out there, you can be like @berci, and change it."

    This is very time consuming and most doctors (at least those in the U.S.) are already very busy.

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  3. Another thing to consider... primary reading and research by junior physicians may involve textbooks and journal articles. This takes up a significant amount of time to log in through the library website and enter very specific search queries.

    Wikipedia and google(though not really Web 2.0) are fast and as stated earlier, "good enough" to jog your memory about something. I think of it as a reminder or a refresher. It is something to confirm what you already know.

    However, last year I distinctly recall a transitional student in surgery using wikipedia to find out if he/she should use a cephalosporin or a tetracycline for gram negative coverage. I vehemently disagree with this "point-of-care" usage.

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  4. "last year I distinctly recall a transitional student in surgery using wikipedia to find out if he/she should use a cephalosporin or a tetracycline for gram negative coverage. I vehemently disagree with this "point-of-care" usage."

    Exactly. Wikipedia can (and is) edited by anybody. No patient care decisions should be based on a text that could have been changed an hour ago by a prankster.

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