Submissions:2019/"WikiHealth": Results of a comprehensive review of academic health literature and Wikipedia

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This submission has been noted and is pending review for WikiConference North America 2019.


"WikiHealth": Results of a comprehensive review of academic health literature and Wikipedia


Reliability of Information

Type of session:

Lightning Talk


While two systematic reviews of scholarly Wikipedia literature have been conducted, a review that focuses specifically on the treatment of Wikipedia in scholarly health literature has not yet been reported. In light of the limited academic discourse around Wikipedia as a health information resource, the author conducted a comprehensive review of the literature to gain deeper insight into what is currently known about Wikipedia as a health information source and how Wikipedia is treated in this regard.

In an effort to retrieve all records within the scope of health and medicine, the author developed and executed a broad literature search strategy in OVID Medline, OVID Embase, CINAHL, LISTA, Wilson’s Web, AMED, and Web of Science. Database records were screened first by title and abstract, then by full-text. Records were excluded if: Wikipedia was not a major or exclusive focus of the article; Wikipedia was not discussed within the context of a health or medical topic; the article was not available in English (no funds were available to support translation for this review), or; the article was a letter, commentary, editorial, or popular media article.

The literature search retrieved 2,213 unique results. 89 articles and conference proceedings were included in the review. Two overarching themes, with various sub-themes, emerged from these results: (1) Evidence to position Wikipedia as an online health information resource for consumers (such as patients), practitioners, and students, and; (2) the utility of Wikipedia for research and education. The proposed presentation will dive deeper into these findings. While Wikipedia is well into its second decade, the academic discourse around Wikipedia within the context of health is young. Several questions have not been asked within the literature that are instrumental in understanding Wikipedia’s role as a health information resource. Possibilities for future research will be discussed.

Academic Peer Review option:


Author name:

Denise Smith

E-mail address:


Wikimedia username:


Affiliated organization(s):

Western University; McMaster University

Estimated time:

10 mins

Preferred room size:


Special requests:


Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?:

No, but I have submitted a proposal to present at the annual meeting of the Upstate New York and Ontario Chapter of the Medical Library Association in October 2019

If your submission is not accepted, would you be open to presenting your topic in another part of the program? (e.g. lightning talk or unconference session)