Background: Sexual dysfunction is a private set of disorders that may cause stigma for patients when discussing their private problems with doctors. They might also feel reluctant to initiate a face-to-face consultation. Internet searches are gradually becoming the first choice for people with sexual dysfunction to obtain health information. Globally, Wikipedia is the most popular and consulted validated encyclopedia website in the English-speaking world. Baidu Encyclopedia is becoming the dominant source in Chinese-speaking regions; however, the objectivity and readability of the content are yet to be evaluated.
Objective: Hence, we aimed to evaluate the reliability, readability, and objectivity of male sexual dysfunction content on Wikipedia and Baidu Encyclopedia.
Methods: The Chinese Baidu Encyclopedia and English Wikipedia were investigated. All possible synonymous and derivative keywords for the most common male sexual dysfunction, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and their most common complication, chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome, were screened. Two doctors evaluated the articles on Chinese Baidu Encyclopedia and English Wikipedia. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) scoring system, DISCERN instrument, and Global Quality Score (GQS) were used to assess the quality of disease-related articles.
Results: The total DISCERN scores (P=.002) and JAMA scores (P=.001) for Wikipedia were significantly higher than those of Baidu Encyclopedia; there was no statistical difference between the GQS scores (P=.31) for these websites. Specifically, the DISCERN Section 1 score (P<.001) for Wikipedia was significantly higher than that of Baidu Encyclopedia, while the differences between the DISCERN Section 2 and 3 scores (P=.14 and P=.17, respectively) were minor. Furthermore, Wikipedia had a higher proportion of high total DISCERN scores (P<.001) and DISCERN Section 1 scores (P<.001) than Baidu Encyclopedia. Baidu Encyclopedia and Wikipedia both had low DISCERN Section 2 and 3 scores (P=.49 and P=.99, respectively), and most of these scores were low quality.
Conclusions: Wikipedia provides more reliable, higher quality, and more objective information than Baidu Encyclopedia. Yet, there are opportunities for both platforms to vastly improve their content quality. Moreover, both sites had similar poor quality content on treatment options. Joint efforts of physicians, physician associations, medical institutions, and internet platforms are needed to provide reliable, readable, and objective knowledge about diseases.
Keywords: Baidu Encyclopedia; DISCERN instrument; Wikipedia; digital health; health information; internet; sexual dysfunction.
©Ming Ma, Saifu Yin, Mengli Zhu, Yu Fan, Xi Wen, Tao Lin, Turun Song. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (https://www.jmir.org), 09.08.2022.