Consumers Union of United States, Inc.
Special Projects Fund
January 2015- December 2016
Wikipedia is among the leading sources of medical information for medical professionals and health care consumers alike.
It is a free, online, multilingual encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone. It contains 27,000 health care articles that typically have had much higher placement in online search results than other sources of health information, including the Mayo Clinic, WebMD, MedlinePlus, e-Medicine.com, and all .gov domains. Medical professionals often consult Wikipedia to get a quick take on an issue they may not be familiar with or as a springboard to more authoritative sources in the footnotes. A 2014 survey found that 50% of doctors report using Wikipedia.
Recognizing the platform’s popularity, Consumers Union proposed a project to create and implement a model that trains medical students to fact check and incorporate evidence-based health information throughout Wikipedia’s health-related pages. Although physicians and medical students are encouraged to publish in traditional sources of medical content (e.g., textbooks and journals), it is not common for them to contribute to open- or crowd-sourced resources like Wikipedia. The goal of this project was to improve the quality and accuracy of Wikipedia’s health information by creating a for-credit training program at 8 of New York State’s 15 medical schools that would recruit medical students and train them to use, edit, and contribute to Wikipedia’s health pages.
In 2014, NYSHealth awarded Consumers Union a grant to support a two-year collaborative with New York State medical schools to implement the Wikipedia Education Program.