People may be skeptical about medical and health articles they encounter on crowdsourced websites, such as Wikipedia and Wikihealth, according to researchers. While that may be good news for health officials who are worried that these sites allow non-experts to easily add and edit health information, the researchers added that having medical professionals curate content on those sites may not reduce the skepticism.
“There are major concerns about health misinformation that’s floating around, especially now with COVID-19,” said S. Shyam Sundar, James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects, co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory and affiliate of Penn State’s Institute for Computational and Data Science (ICDS). “Now that anybody and everybody can generate health-related posts, it is natural to be concerned that information on these crowdsourced websites might influence people. Our study suggests that health practitioners need not get too worked up about these sites. Laypersons, like the participants in our study, do not trust the crowd, nor do they think that the information they provide is comprehensive.”