Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

When free speech conflicts with public health objectives: Yale ISP Conference « Wikimedia blog

When free speech conflicts with public health objectives: Yale ISP Conference « Wikimedia blog.

The Public Health and First Amendment Conference took place at Yale University. Harkness Tower photo by Hilary Richardson, licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Amendment jurisprudence frequently pits societal ideals against free speech. A recent conference at Yale Law Schoolshowed that this is no less the case when commercial free speech protections conflict with public health regulatory objectives.

The conference, Public Health in the Shadow of the First Amendment, was co-sponsored by the Information Society Project, the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership, and the Yale Health Law and Policy Society on October 17 and 18, 2014. The event brought together public health advocates, medical professionals and First Amendment scholars to discuss the implications of recent controversial First Amendment case law. The panels highlighted several areas where courts have protected commercial speech in spite of unpopular consequences for public health policy. Hilary Richardson attended the conference on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation legal team, given its interest in free speech law.

This conference was especially relevant to Wikipedia’s coverage of medical or health related topics. Since the content for pages on Wikipedia is entirely user-generated by thousands of volunteer editors, critics may argue that imperfection is inherent in the medical content pages. It is up to our community of editors to strike a balance between maximizing the total sum of freely available knowledge and removing information that could be misleading. If you think this sounds like an impossible task, here is some food for thought: in October alone, the New York Times wrote about how Wikipedia became one of the most trusted sources on the Internet for learning about Ebola, and four Wikipedians published a scholarly article on Dengue fever in a peer-reviewed journal based on a collaboratively edited Wikipedia article. In addition to meticulously curating the Ebola page on Wikipedia, Dr. James Heilman startedWikiProject Medicine in order to improve medical and health content on Wikipedia and “benefit the world by giving the general public and health care professionals a text they can all read, appreciate, and respect, free of charge.” Medical schools like UCSF have forged partnerships with WikiProject Medicine so that top medical students can identify gaps in information and update entries using their own knowledge and credible resources.

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Professor Post provided insight into how we theorize the First Amendment and why we understand it to protect commercial speech at all. According to Post, the primary distinction between speech that is covered by the First Amendment and speech that is not comes down to our democratic value of self-governance: speech triggers First Amendment coverage when it participates in the formation of public opinion because we want the government to be responsive to public opinion. Generally, this creates a First Amendment right which is speaker-oriented. However, this changed when the Supreme Court invented the commercial speech doctrine. In Virginia Pharmacy,[3] the Court gave two rationales: we need efficient distribution of information in order to have efficient markets, and we protect commercial speech because it distributes information which is necessary for citizens to participate in public opinion formation. Post argued that in this sense, Virginia Pharmacy created a First Amendment right of the receiver to hear information rather than speak it. In the context of commercial speech, the Supreme Court conceives of the public as people capable of processing information. This suggests that it is up to the people to decide what information they need.

Professor Volokh echoed Post and Bambauer in his agreement that First Amendment protections are about protecting a free market, so that it is better for people to have more information when making decisions. Volokh stressed that the logic behind the commercial speech doctrine is that even though we may think that patients and doctors may make bad decisions, it is possible that government regulators might as well: “the First Amendment directs us to be especially skeptical of regulations that seek to keep people in the dark for what the government perceives to be their own good.”

January 26, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] 9 out of 10 health entries on Wikipedia are inaccurate, study finds

From the 14 May 2014 post at Venture Beat News

Millions of people around the world immediately go to the Web for information after feeling a mysterious ache, pain, rash, or bump. This often results in either a panic attack or a false sense of calm. Doctors have warned against this practice since the days of Netscape, and now a new report puts some science behind their fears.

Researchers at Campbell University in North Carolina compared Wikipedia entries on 10 of the costliest health problems with peer-reviewed medical research on the same illnesses. Those illnesses included heart disease, lung cancer, depression, and hypertension, among others.

The researchers found that nine out of the 10 Wikipedia entries studied contained inaccurate and sometimes dangerously misleading information. “Wikipedia articles … contain many errors when checked against standard peer-reviewed sources,” the report states. “Caution should be used when using Wikipedia to answer questions regarding patient care.”

At Wikipedia anybody can contribute to entries on health problems — no medical training (or even common sense) is required.

“While Wikipedia is a convenient tool for conducting research, 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,” said the report’s lead author, Dr. Robert Hasty in a statement.

And there’s a lot of health information on Wikipedia. The site contains more than 31 million entries, and at least 20,000 of them are health-related, the report says.

The study findings were published in this month’s Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. You can see the full text of the study here.

Via: Daily Mail

More about the companies and people from this article:

Wikipedia is a project operated by a non-profit organization, the Wikimedia Foundation, and created and maintained by a strong community of 80,000 international active volunteer editors. Founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia has be… read more »

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Related Resources

How to evaluate health information (flahiff.google.com)

Evaluating health information (MedlinePlus)

How to evaluate health information (NIH)

July 11, 2014 Posted by | Health Education (General Public) | , , , | Leave a comment

Evidence based content for medical articles on Wikipedia?

ScienceRoll

I would love to get your feedback on a project I just came across on Wikipedia, the WikiProject Medicine/Evidence based content for medical articles on Wikipedia. The organizer of the project is the same as in Cochrane Students’ Journal Club. Please sign up if you are interested in helping us out.

Wikipedia has been accepted world wide as a source of information by both lay people and experts. Its community driven approach has ensured that the information presented caters to a wide variety of people. An article from 2011 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that a significant number of experts and doctors consult Wikipedia’s medicine related topics.

Medical information is very dynamic and conclusions and recommendations are turned on their heads based on new findings. Taking this into account it is important to ensure that Evidence Based content is a part of any medicine related…

View original post 26 more words

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School), Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Librarian Resources | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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