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Wikipedia: A Medical Student Educational Project to Edit Wikipedia in Preparation for Practicing Evidence-Based Pain Medicine.

  • Kantarovich, Diana1
  • Vollbrecht, Hanna B2
  • Cruz, Sebastian A2
  • Castillo, Hector2
  • Lee, Cody S2
  • Kushner, Josef2
  • Leng, Jim X2
  • Morgan, Vince K2
  • Hellman, Kevin M2, 3
  • 1 Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University, North Chicago, IL, USA.
  • 2 University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.
  • 3 NorthShore University HealthSystem.
Published Article
Journal of medical education and curricular development
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2020
DOI: 10.1177/2382120520959691
PMID: 33015367


Wikipedia is commonly used to acquire information about various medical conditions such as chronic pain. Ideally, better online pain management content could reduce the burden of opioid use disorders. Our goal was to improve the quality of the content available on Wikipedia to make it more accurate and applicable to medical students and the general public while training medical students to practice evidence-based medicine and critically assess their sources of information. An elective class in Neuroscience, Pain, and Opioids composed of 10 medical students met biweekly to discuss landmark and practice-changing research articles in the fields of acute pain, chronic pain, and opioid management. The professor chose Wikipedia articles relevant to this course. Three independent viewers analyzed the quality of citations, anecdotal medical content, and content value for both patients and medical professionals. As part of their coursework, students then edited the Wikipedia articles. Although some of the Wikipedia pain topic content (6.7% ± 2.0) was anecdotal, financially biased, or inconsistent with Western Medical Practice content, overall articles included primarily high-quality citations (85.6% ± 3.1). On a 0-5 Likert scale, students felt content would be moderately helpful for both medical students/professionals (3.4 ± 0.2) and laypersons (3.5 ± 0.2). Editing and adding citations was feasible, but novel material was often reverted. A significant amount of pain medicine content was relevant and amenable to student editing. Therefore, future use of this tactic could provide a unique opportunity to integrate evidence-based medicine into the medical curriculum and have a direct impact on the widely available medical information. Future refinement in the editorial process may also further improve online information. © The Author(s) 2020.

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