Readability and reliability of Wikipedia articles in high-risk pregnancy and birth control options
Objective. This study aims to compare the readability and reliability of Wikipedia articles with corresponding Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) patient education leaflets.
Materials and Methods. We selected Wikipedia articles on high-risk pregnancy and birth control options based on the series of online patient educational leaflets published by the SMFM. Our final analysis included the text content of 13 SMFM. Readability was assessed using six different readability scales, including the Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) Index. To evaluate the quality, each of the selected articles was assessed with the modified DISCERN instrument.
Results. Our research establishes a concerning discrepancy between Wikipedia and the average US online page viewer seeking medical information.
Conclusions. In terms of observed lower quality of Wikipedia articles, our findings indicate the obligation for every clinician to use their critical appraisal skills to help patients avoid misleading health information.