Wikipedia: Clinician Friend or Foe?

Wikis > Wikipedia: Clinician Friend or Foe?

Wikipedia: Clinician Friend or Foe?

Shelby Johnson, Emily C. Goldman, Mian-Li Ong, Kenny Le, Rachael Kang, Ellie Wu, & Eric A. Youngstrom

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Funded by grants from Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology (SSCP), Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (SCCAP) and American Psychological Association (APA)

2017 Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology Conference



  • Evidence-Based Assessment (EBA)
    • EBA uses most current evidence to guide clinical decision-making and avoid bias1
  • Barriers to EBA
    • Clinician concern about inaccessibility and cost of using high-quality instruments2
    • Identifying which instruments are high-quality
  • Wikipedia as a Dissemination Tool
    • Substantial support for effectiveness of dissemination through high-traffic websites3
    • Wikipedia is 7th most viewed site in world4
    • Can be continuously updated to reflect most current empirical research
    • Wikipedia content found to be highly accurate5
  • Goal of Research
    • Use Wikipedia to further widespread dissemination of EBA-related content and tools


  • Procedure
    • Collected instruments from recent reviews6,7 and Division 12 repository, then screened instruments
    • Uploaded information on instruments to Wikipedia pages (development/history, psychometric data, items on screeners, scoring information, etc.)
  • Participants
    • 36 free and validated scales, ranked using criteria adapted from Hunsley and Mash (2005)8
  • Measures
    • For new pages (n=31), measured Wikipedia page views from day of creation to January 2016
    • For edited pages (n=5), measured page views from date of first edit to January 2016


  • Instrument Page Hits (Jul ’15 – Nov ’16)
    • 404,173 page hits recorded from 36 total pages
    • 162,338 page hits from new pages (n = 31)
  • Hits Categorized by Disorder
    • Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive instrument Wikipedia pages (126,952  hits)
    • Substance use pages (44,742 hits)
    • Mood disorder pages (51,602  hits)


  • Impact
    • Help make information on EBA and its tools more readily available to clinicians and general public
    • Mutual benefit and search engine optimization for both Wikipedia and psychological associations from links to and from their web pages
    • Hits continue to accumulate post-data collection
  • Future Directions
    • Additional data collection across other constructs
    • Inviting content experts to evaluate and rate information on Wikipedia
    • Forming inter-university teaching syndicate to continuously update information
    • Creating a rubric to evaluate Wikipedia content


  • 1Hunsley & Mash, 2007
    • Hunsley, J., & Mash, E. J. (2007). Evidence-based assessment. Annual Review of Psychology, 3, 29-51.
  • 2Jensen-Doss & Hawley, 2010
    • Jensen-Doss, A., & Hawley, K. M. (2010). Understanding barriers to evidence-based assessment: Clinician attitudes towards standardized assessment tools. Journal of Clinical Child Adolscent Psychology, 39(6), 885-896.
  • 3AHRQ, 2012
    • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2012). Evidence based practice center systematic review protocol: Communication and dissemination strategies to facilitate the use of health and health care evidence. Retrieved from
  • 4Alexa, 2016
  • 5Reavley et al., 2012
    • Reavley, N. J., Mackinnon, A. J., Morgan, A. J., Alvarez-Jimenez, M., Hetrick, S. E., Killackey, E., Nelson, B., Purcell, R., Yap, M.B., & Jorm, A. F. (2012). Quality of information sources about mental disorders: a comparison of Wikipedia with centrally controlled web and printed sources. Psychological medicine, 42(08), 1753-1762.
  • 6Beidas et al., 2015
    • Beidas, R. S., Stewart, R. E., Walsh, L., Lucas, S., Downey, M. M., Jackson, K., Fernandez, T., & Mandell, D. S. (2015). Free, brief, and validated: Standardized instruments for low-resource mental health settings. Cognitive and behavioral practice, 22(1), 5-19.
  • 7Brahos & Fristad, 2015
    • Brahos, M., & Fristad, M. (2015). Free Screening Measures of Childhood Psychopathology. Personal correspondence.
  • 8Mash & Hunsley, 2005
    • Mash, E. J., & Hunsley, J. (2005). Evidence-based assessment of child and adolescent disorders: Issues and challenges. Journal of clinical child and Adolescent Psychology, 34(3), 362-379.


Instrument Pages Created or Edited Extensively


For more information, contact Shelby Johnson at