Use Library databases—not Wikipedia—for medical research.

Don't use Wikipedia for medical research.

Don’t use Wikipedia for medical research.

OK, let’s be honest: If you came home from a walk in the woods and discovered a tick on your skin, where would you turn first for information? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably Wikipedia. By doing so, however, you could be placing yourself at risk. A recent study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that “most Wikipedia articles representing the 10 most costly medical conditions in the United States contain many errors when checked against standard peer-reviewed sources.”1 Moreover, the report’s lead author, Dr. Robert Hasty, concludes that “from a public health standpoint, patients should not use it as a primary resource because those articles do not go through the same peer-review process as medical journals.”2

Use the Library's medical databases.

Use the Library’s medical databases.

So where should you turn? The Library subscribes to two databases with authoritative medical information: Consumer Health Complete and Alt HealthWatch.

Consumer Health Complete provides “the single-most comprehensive resource for consumer-oriented health content… covering all areas of health and wellness from mainstream medicine to the many perspectives of complementary, holistic, and integrated medicine.”3

Alt HealthWatch “focuses on the many perspectives of complementary, holistic, and integrated approaches to health care and wellness… with full-text articles for 200 international, and often peer-reviewed, journals and reports.”4

While Dr. Hasty cautions that “the best resource when looking for a diagnosis is to speak with your physician,”5 the Library’s medical databases can provide you with the information you need to be an informed patient. To try Consumer Health Complete, click here; to try Alt HealthWatch, click here.

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1Robert T. Hasty et al., “Wikipedia vs. Peer-Reviewed Medical Literature for Information about the 10 Most Costly Medical Conditions,” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 114, no. 5 (2014): 368, http://www.jaoa.org/content/114/5/368.full.

2Mike Campea and Nicole Grady, “Caution Prescribed When Researching Medical Conditions on Wikipedia,” American Osteopathic Association, May 2, 2014, http://www.osteopathic.org/inside-aoa/news-and-publications/media-center/2014-news-releases/Pages/5-2-caution-prescribed-when-researching-medical-conditions-on-wikipedia.aspx

3“Consumer Health Complete: Informing Patients on Important Health Related Topics to Foster an Understanding of Health,” EBSCO, 2014, http://www.ebscohost.com/public/consumer-health-complete.

4“Alt HealthWatch: An Extensive Resource for Alternative and Holistic Approaches to Health Care and Wellness,” EBSCO, 2014, http://www.ebscohost.com/academic/alt-healthwatch.

5Campea, “Caution Prescribed.”