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Avoid Using Wikipedia for Health-Related Issues

Update Date: May 27, 2014 03:05 PM EDT

Even though doctors are the best option to turn to for health related issues, many people continue to self diagnose by using Internet websites. Although certain websites can provide a lot of helpful general information, not all websites are created equal. According to a new study, researchers reported that medical information found on Wikipedia was not up to date with current research.

For this study, the researchers examined Wikipedia articles on 10 of the costliest medical conditions, which included coronary disease, lung cancer, back pain and hypertension. The team compared these articles to the articles that were the most recently published in peer-reviewed journals.

The researchers discovered that nine out of the 10 articles they examined contradicted the information published in the most recent medical journals. The only entry that consisted of up-to-date data was about concussions.

"Health care professionals, trainees, and patients should use caution when using Wikipedia to answer questions regarding patient care," the researchers wrote according to TIME.

The researchers stressed the importance of acknowledging the possibility of coming across outdated information when using Wikipedia. People in general should avoid using the website. However, medical professionals in particular must stop using Wikipedia as a reference source. According to a report available through the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, 50 percent of physicians reported using Wikipedia for medical purposes.

The study, "Wikipedia vs Peer-Reviewed Medical Literature for Information About the 10 Most Costly Medical Conditions," was published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

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