Wikipedia is not an accurate medical guide
26th Nov 2008 | 10:09
Cyberchondriacs beware - some info may be missing
It may not come as the biggest surprise for anyone with half a brain, but apparently Wikipedia is not a reliable source of medical information.
A study by Dr Kevin A. Clauson of Nova Southeastern University in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and his colleagues in the popular community managed online encyclopaedia discovered that many drug listings did not carry the full information.
Examples given included the fact that the entry for St John's wort did not mention that it can interfere with the action of the IV drug Prezista.
"If people went and used this as a sole or authoritative source without contacting a health professional... those are the types of negative impacts that can occur," Clauson told Reuters Health.
A separate report from Microsoft suggests that many people do in fact search the internet for both drugs and symptoms – often leaping to the worst conclusion.
"Our results show that web search engines have the potential to escalate medical concerns," says the company's report – which researched 5,000 employees and its own anonymous Live Search data.
These 'cyberchondriacs' apparently are using a search engine like a human and believing that it can make the leaps in decision making that professional medical workers offer.