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Back Away from Wikipedia

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Thumbs DownKelly Campbell, NASS Staff

Wikipedia is the sixth most popular website in the world based on Internet traffic. Internet surfers use it for quick answers on topics ranging from historical figures to health. And, just as students shouldn’t use Wikipedia to help write their history papers, patients shouldn’t use it as a source for their health information.

The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association recently published an article examining the accuracy of Wikipedia articles on the 10 most costly health conditions in the United States. Back pain was among these conditions. The paper found that nine of the 10 articles (including back pain) contained errors and unreliable information about the condition compared to peer-reviewed literature on the topics. The study also noted that Wikipedia is an unsuitable source for information about medications.

Instead of getting questionable information online, talk to your doctor! Your doctor can address your condition, while directing you to reliable websites featuring credible medical information written and reviewed by physicians, such as Know Your Back, the official patient education website of the North American Spine Society.



Hasty RT, Garbalosa RC, Barbato VA, Valdes PJ Jr, Powers DH, Hernandez E, et al. Wikipedia vs peer-reviewed medical literature for information about the 10 most costly medical conditions. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2014 May;114(5):368-73.


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