Wikipedia as a drug reference….bad idea.

Medicine 2.0 Congress blogspot : “Readability of the Top 50 Prescribed Drugs in Wikipedia  – Devin explained that a sample of 50 most prescribed drug in United State were selected and the content related to those prescribed drugs in Wikipedia were indentified and saved as HTML files for evaluation. Each Wikipedia entry was analyzed independently by two investigators using Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. A Health information readability analyzer was also used to integrate dimensions that other readability tools lacked such as : lexical, the most easy to read; semantic, the most difficult to read; cohesion and syntactic. Eventually, descriptive statistics was used to analyze the scores generated by these tools. Devin concluded by stating that the reading level of the 50 prescribed drug entries in Wikipedia are higher that the reading level of consumers. Therefore, there is a potential barrier of health and drug information for some Wikipedia users. To improve the Wikipedia, the vocabulary can be simplified; and in order to improve the consumers’ comprehension, the lexical and syntactic constructs need to be enhanced without compromising cohesion and structure.” – Similar to information provided by drug reps, Wikipedia is not a credible drug reference and should never be used as such. While interesting, Wikipedia may contain opinions and information presented in a biased manner. The fact that there is a study on the usability of drug information in Wikipedia is disturbing. When looking for drug information, healthcare professionals should always use credible references like Lexi-Comp, UpToDate, MD Consult, or something similar. If detailed information is needed, consult the primary literature. Consumers should consult their local pharmacist for credible drug information.

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