Display Settings:

Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2009 Jul-Aug;16(4):471-9. doi: 10.1197/jamia.M3059. Epub 2009 Apr 23.

Seeking health information online: does Wikipedia matter?

Author information

  • 1Faculty of Medicine, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (MRL), Belgium; Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University, School of Medicine (TJV), St. Louis, MO, USA.michael.laurent@gmail.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To determine the significance of the English Wikipedia as a source of online health information. DESIGN The authors measured Wikipedia's ranking on general Internet search engines by entering keywords from MedlinePlus, NHS Direct Online, and the National Organization of Rare Diseases as queries into search engine optimization software. We assessed whether article quality influenced this ranking. The authors tested whether traffic to Wikipedia coincided with epidemiological trends and news of emerging health concerns, and how it compares to MedlinePlus. MEASUREMENTS Cumulative incidence and average position of Wikipedia compared to other Web sites among the first 20 results on general Internet search engines (Google, Google UK, Yahoo, and MSN, and page view statistics for selected Wikipedia articles and MedlinePlus pages. RESULTS Wikipedia ranked among the first ten results in 71-85% of search engines and keywords tested. Wikipedia surpassed MedlinePlus and NHS Direct Online (except for queries from the latter on Google UK), and ranked higher with quality articles. Wikipedia ranked highest for rare diseases, although its incidence in several categories decreased. Page views increased parallel to the occurrence of 20 seasonal disorders and news of three emerging health concerns. Wikipedia articles were viewed more often than MedlinePlus Topic (p = 0.001) but for MedlinePlus Encyclopedia pages, the trend was not significant (p = 0.07-0.10). CONCLUSIONS Based on its search engine ranking and page view statistics, the English Wikipedia is a prominent source of online health information compared to the other online health information providers studied.

Comment in

PMID:
19390105
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2705249
Free PMC Article

Images from this publication.See all images (2)Free text

Figure 1
Figure 2
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk