Providing public access to health evidence through Wikipedia




Short oral session 7: Tools to communicate and use evidence


Thursday 14 September 2017 - 14:00 to 15:30


All authors in correct order:

Levi R1
1 SBU, The Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of Social Services, Sweden
Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author:

Ragnar Levi

Contact person:

Abstract text
Background: Wikipedia is a popular, collaboratively edited web encyclopaedia. Critics have pointed to risks of misinformation due to poor quality and relevance of sources. We initiated a project where health evidence from SBU’s systematic reviews is used on Swedish Wikipedia.

Objectives: To quantify the access to evidence from SBU’s systematic reviews when quoted on Swedish Wikipedia by SBU staff and a Wikipedian-in-Residence (WIR).

Methods: We held two 3-hour workshops, where a total of 16 staff members were trained in editing and writing Swedish Wikipedia articles. Tailored instructions for participants had been developed by the WIR, who also contributed to articles during a 2-week residency. Participants chose topics freely based on professional interest and perceived need for evidence.

Access to the resulting articles was monitored in two ways: 1) total number of page views for each Wikipedia article, calculated by Wikimedia Tool Labs; and, 2) number of visits to SBU’s website directly from any Wikipedia article from 1 January to 31 December 2016, calculated by Google Analytics.

Results: A total of 26 articles on Swedish Wikipedia were edited or written by SBU staff or WIR in 2016, based on current SBU reviews. Of these 26 articles, 19 (73%) were already started and 7 (27%) were added by us. No article previously referred to SBU reviews.

The number of page views per Wikipedia article varied greatly across topics, from 4 to 134 546. The total number of page views for all 26 articles in 2016 was 404 052, and for the 7 new Wikipedia articles 5699. For the 19 pre-existing articles, these numbers include the entire year regardless of date for SBU’s contribution.

Linkage from Wikipedia generated a total of 1255 visits to SBU’s website in 2016, of which 932 visits (74%) were from new IP addresses not previously recorded to access SBU’s website.

Conclusions: Health and medical evidence from systematic reviews may be viewed frequently when quoted on Wikipedia, altough the number of page views varies greatly between topics. Wikipedia articles may provide easy access to health evidence, and including links may generate visits to the source.