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Study: Wikis Help Patients Participate in Creating Clinical Practice Guidelines

October 31, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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According to a new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, wikis would be an effective participatory tool for patients in the development of a clinical practice guideline. Wikis, which are user-friendly websites that allow readers to put in their own modifications of content with a simple text editor, were tested by researchers looking to create clinical guidelines for infertility treatment.

The researchers wanted to see how many people would visit the wiki, what the benefits would be, and what helped and hurt adoption. In order to create the initial wiki, the Netherlands-based researchers interviewed 12 patients and created 90 recommendations onto a wiki. It then invited various infertile patients onto the wiki to modify it and make their own recommendations. After doing so, the researchers asked the patients to select their top recommendations for each of the sections on fertility care. They then assessed the recommendations.

The result was the wiki attracted 298 unique visitors, with 289 recommendations. This level of participation, the researchers said, shows that the wiki is a promising and feasible participatory tool for this usage.

Of the complaints about the wiki tool, most said the ease-of-use need to improve. The researchers recommend a modified version of their tool, including a limit to the number of modified recommendations, should be developed and evaluated. 

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