Wikipedia: a key tool for global public health promotion

J Med Internet Res. 2011 Jan 31;13(1):e14. doi: 10.2196/jmir.1589.


The Internet has become an important health information resource for patients and the general public. Wikipedia, a collaboratively written Web-based encyclopedia, has become the dominant online reference work. It is usually among the top results of search engine queries, including when medical information is sought. Since April 2004, editors have formed a group called WikiProject Medicine to coordinate and discuss the English-language Wikipedia's medical content. This paper, written by members of the WikiProject Medicine, discusses the intricacies, strengths, and weaknesses of Wikipedia as a source of health information and compares it with other medical wikis. Medical professionals, their societies, patient groups, and institutions can help improve Wikipedia's health-related entries. Several examples of partnerships already show that there is enthusiasm to strengthen Wikipedia's biomedical content. Given its unique global reach, we believe its possibilities for use as a tool for worldwide health promotion are underestimated. We invite the medical community to join in editing Wikipedia, with the goal of providing people with free access to reliable, understandable, and up-to-date health information.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Health Information*
  • Encyclopedias as Topic*
  • Global Health*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Information Services
  • Internet*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Public Health*