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[Does WIKIPEDIA provide evidence-based health care information? A content analysis].

[Article in German]

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  • 1Universität Hamburg, MIN Fakultät, Gesundheitswissenschaften, Hamburg.


Patients and consumers are increasingly searching the Internet for medical and healthcare information. Using the criteria of evidence-based medicine the present study analyses the websites of Wikipedia and two major German statutory health insurances for content and presentation of patient information. 22 senior students of health sciences and education evaluated one topic each. In a first step, they identified the evidence for their specific question. Afterwards they used their results as reference for the evaluation of the three websites. Using a check list each student and a second researcher independently rated content and presentation of the information offered. All these websites failed to meet relevant criteria, and key information such as the presentation of probabilities of success on patient-relevant outcomes, probabilities of unwanted effects, and unbiased risk communication was missing. On average items related to the objectives of interventions, the natural course of disease and treatment options were only rated as "partially fulfilled". Overall, there were only minor differences between the three providers, except for items related to the specific nature of the websites such as disclosure of authorship, conflict of interest and support offers. In addition, the Wikipedia information tended to achieve lower comprehensibility. In conclusion, the quality of the healthcare information provided by Wikipedia and two major German statutory health insurances is comparable. They do not meet important criteria of evidence-based patient and consumer information though.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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