Usemed, Arild Faxvaags weblog on healthcare computing

January 26, 2009

Scope, Completeness, and Accuracy of Drug Information in Wikipedia

Filed under: Internet in medicine — arildf @ 5:10 pm
Tags: ,

According to this report, information on pharmaceutical drugs on wikipedia is incomplete and much more likely to contain errors of omission compared with the Medscape Drug Reference (MDR). Using http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rifampicin as an example of a Google search result, the authors have compared Wikipedia entries with those of MDR, a “freely accessible general drug information database that had been previously evaluated and found to be broad in both scope and depth of drug information that was gathered from authoritative references”. Paradoxically, information on Rifampicin at MDR appear to be unaccessible. Only after having found out that Rifampicin’s trade name is IsonaRif I am able to retrieve some of the the data. Wikipedia may be inferior to MDR with regard to to completeless and acuracy but fares much better when it comes to availability, transparency of the editing process, the use of citations, openess and the extent of linking to other relevant information resources. The collaborative editing of wikipedia entries is an example of distributed human computation. Medicine should start exploring it’s potential rather than warning of its possible side effects.

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