Wikipedia Articles on Nutrition: Are they Accurate and Complete?

Author(s): Norman J. Temple*.

Journal Name: Current Nutrition & Food Science

Volume 16 , Issue 2 , 2020

Become EABM
Become Reviewer

Graphical Abstract:


Abstract:

Background: There is controversy regarding whether Wikipedia entries in the area of health-related topics are accurate and complete.

Objective: To investigate the accuracy and completeness of Wikipedia entries on nutrition.

Methods: Fifty-three accurate statements were formulated. Topics covered diverse areas of nutrition. One or more search terms were developed for each statement. Wikipedia entries were identified using Google for 89 search terms. These were graded for level of accuracy and completeness.

Results: The entries for 73.5% of the statements had high scores (at most only minor problems were seen). The entries for 18.9% of the statements had a lesser degree of accuracy and completeness; the most common problem was that at least one entry for a statement provided no information on the statement. Serious problems of missing information were seen with the entries for 7.6% of the statements. No errors were found in any Wikipedia entries.

Conclusion: While Wikipedia entries in the area of nutrition are quite accurate and free of errors, important information is often missing. Nutrition professionals should be discouraged from relying on Wikipedia. These findings are broadly consistent with other studies of Wikipedia entries in healthrelated areas.

Keywords: Accuracy and completeness, diet information, health information, health-related topics, nutrition information, Wikipedia.

[1]
Wikipedia. Wikipedia: About. 2016 [cited January 2016]. Available at:. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia
[2]
Brokowski L, Sheehan AH. Evaluation of pharmacist use and perception of Wikipedia as a drug information resource. Ann Pharmacother 2009; 43(11): 1912-3.
[http://dx.doi.org/10.1345/aph.1M340] [PMID: 19843833]
[3]
Temple NJ, Fraser J. How accurate are Wikipedia articles in health, nutrition, and medicine? Can J Inf Lib Sci 2014; 38: 37-52.
[4]
Kupferberg N, Protus BM. Accuracy and completeness of drug information in Wikipedia: an assessment. J Med Libr Assoc 2011; 99(4): 310-3.
[http://dx.doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.99.4.010] [PMID: 22022226]
[5]
Lavsa SM, Corman SL, Culley CM. Reliability of Wikipedia as a medication information source for pharmacy students. Curr Pharm Teach Learn 2011; 3(2): 154-8.
[http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cptl.2011.01.007]
[6]
Egle JP, Smeenge DM, Kassem KM, Mittal VK. The Internet School of Medicine: use of electronic resources by medical trainees and the reliability of those resources. J Surg Educ 2015; 72(2): 316-20.
[http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsurg.2014.08.005] [PMID: 25487347]
[7]
Azer SA, AlSwaidan NM, Alshwairikh LA, AlShammari JM. Accuracy and readability of cardiovascular entries on Wikipedia: Are they reliable learning resources for medical students? BMJ Open 2015; 5(10)e008187
[http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008187] [PMID: 26443650]
[8]
Azer SA. Is Wikipedia a reliable learning resource for medical students? Evaluating respiratory topics. Adv Physiol Educ 2015; 39(1): 5-14.
[http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/advan.00110.2014] [PMID: 25727464]
[9]
Azer SA. Evaluation of gastroenterology and hepatology articles on Wikipedia: are they suitable as learning resources for medical students? Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2014; 26(2): 155-63.
[http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/MEG.0000000000000003] [PMID: 24276492]
[10]
Reavley NJ, Mackinnon AJ, Morgan AJ, et al. Quality of information sources about mental disorders: a comparison of Wikipedia with centrally controlled web and printed sources. Psychol Med 2012; 42(8): 1753-62.
[http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S003329171100287X] [PMID: 22166182]
[11]
Rajagopalan MS, Khanna VK, Leiter Y, et al. Patient-oriented cancer information on the internet: a comparison of Wikipedia and a professionally maintained database. J Oncol Pract 2011; 7(5): 319-23.
[http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JOP.2010.000209] [PMID: 22211130]
[12]
Temple NJ. A plague of false and misleading information Nutrition guide for physicians and related healthcare professionals 2nd ed Humana Press: New York 2017; pp. 335-40.
[http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49929-1_33]
[13]
Cohen PA. Hazards of hindsight--monitoring the safety of nutritional supplements. N Engl J Med 2014; 370(14): 1277-80.
[http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMp1315559] [PMID: 24693886]
[14]
Bould MD, Hladkowicz ES, Pigford AA, et al. References that anyone can edit: review of Wikipedia citations in peer reviewed health science literature. BMJ 2014; 348: g1585.


Rights & PermissionsPrintExport Cite as

Article Details

VOLUME: 16
ISSUE: 2
Year: 2020
Page: [237 - 240]
Pages: 4
DOI: 10.2174/1573401314666180327095119
Price: $65

Article Metrics

PDF: 10
HTML: 2