Wikipedia articles, images may improve radiology resources for patients

Medical images and articles found on Wikipedia may help patients better understand their radiology reports, according to a new study published Oct. 6 in the Journal of Digital Imaging.

“In radiology, there is a growing awareness of patients’ needs for information, and for tools to meet those needs,” wrote first author Teresa Martin-Carreras, MD, with the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues.

As part of the study, researchers used automated and semi-automated approaches to determine if concepts from the Patient-Oriented Radiology Reporter (PORTER) initiative—a glossary of lay-language radiology terms—could be mapped to Wikipedia web pages and images.

From the PORTER glossary, the team identified a total of 4,090 concepts and 13,030 terms derived from those concepts. Of the concept total, an automated search revealed 3,063 had a corresponding English-language Wikipedia page. From there, researchers selected 362 images from the MediaWiki application which corresponded with 404 glossary concepts.  

“The current work allowed rapid and efficient selection of related Wikipedia articles and images to enhance the utility of an online glossary of radiology terms,” the authors wrote.

Can it help patients?

A previous clinical trial testing a PORTER glossary prototype found 77 percent of patients claimed the definitions were helpful and 99 percent reported its illustrations were also helpful.

And despite both internal and external metrics concluding Wikipedia’s health information to be variable in quality, but continually improving, the authors believe the website’s detailed information could pair well with the lay-definitions housed within the PORTER glossary

“We believe that Wikipedia’s more detailed information may provide a useful counterpoint to the PORTER glossary’s simplified definitions,” the authors concluded. “Work is underway to implement the online glossary into the patient portal in a large US health system, which will allow assessment of the utility of the Wikipedia links and illustrations.”