Adding evidence of the effects of treatments into relevant Wikipedia pages: a randomised trial

Clive E Adams, Alan A Montgomery, Tony Aburrow, Sophie Bloomfield, Paul M Briley, Ebun Carew, Suravi Chatterjee-Woolman, Ghalia Feddah, Johannes Friedel, Josh Gibbard, Euan Haynes, Mohsin Hussein, Mahesh Jayaram, Samuel Naylor, Luke Perry, Lena Schmidt, Umer Siddique, Ayla Serena Tabaksert, Douglas Taylor, Aarti VelaniDouglas White, Jun Xia

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Objectives To investigate the effects of adding high-grade quantitative evidence of outcomes of treatments into relevant Wikipedia pages on further information-seeking behaviour by the use of routinely collected data. Setting Wikipedia, Cochrane summary pages and the Cochrane Library. Design Randomised trial. Participants Wikipedia pages which were highly relevant to up-to-date Cochrane Schizophrenia systematic reviews that contained a Summary of Findings table. Interventions Eligible Wikipedia pages in the intervention group were seeded with tables of best evidence of the effects of care and hyperlinks to the source Cochrane review. Eligible Wikipedia pages in the control group were left unchanged. Main outcome measures Routinely collected data on access to the full text and summary web page (after 12 months). Results We randomised 70 Wikipedia pages (100% follow-up). Six of the 35 Wikipedia pages in the intervention group had the tabular format deleted during the study but all pages continued to report the same data within the text. There was no evidence of effect on either of the coprimary outcomes: full-text access adjusted ratio of geometric means 1.30, 95% CI: 0.71 to 2.38; page views 1.14, 95% CI: 0.6 to 2.13. Results were similar for all other outcomes, with exception of Altmetric score for which there was some evidence of clear effect (1.36, 95% CI: 1.05 to 1.78). Conclusions The pursuit of fair balance within Wikipedia healthcare pages is impressive and its reach unsurpassed. For every person who sought and clicked the reference on the ‘intervention’ Wikipedia page to seek more information (the primary outcome), many more are likely to have been informed by the page alone. Enriching Wikipedia content is, potentially, a powerful way to improve health literacy and it is possible to test the effects of seeding pages with evidence. This trial should be replicated, expanded and developed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e033655
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2020


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