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Wikis and collaborative writing applications in healthcare: results of a scoping review

Date and Location




Monday 23 September 2013 - 10:30 - 12:00


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Patrick Archambault

Contact person

Patrick Archambault
Abstract text
Background: The rapid rise in the use of collaborative writing applications (CWAs) (eg, wikis, Google Documents, and Google Knol) has created the need for a systematic synthesis of the evidence of their impact as knowledge translation tools in healthcare. Objectives: To explore the depth and breadth of evidence for the use of CWAs in healthcare, and to identify areas that require further systematic reviewing and where more primary research is needed. Methods: We performed a scoping review searching PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, ERIC, EPOC, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, HTAi vortal, Mednar, OpenSIGLE, Google, Bing and Yahoo without any language restrictions, but limited to articles published after 2001. Keywords used were: “wiki,” “wikis,” “Web 2.0,” “social media,” “Google Knol,” “Google Docs,” and “collaborative writing applications”. CWAs were defined as any technology enabling joint and simultaneous editing of online documents by many end users. Two reviewers independently reviewed citations, selected eligible studies and extracted data using a standardized form built into EPPI-reviewer 4. Papers presenting qualitative or quantitative empirical evidence concerning healthcare and CWAs were included. Results: Figure 1 presents our flow chart. Among the 111 included papers, we found 4 experimental studies, 3 quasi-experimental studies, 5 observational studies, 54 case studies, 23 surveys about wiki use and 22 descriptive studies about the quality of information in wikis. Table 1 presents the experimental studies and their results related to the use of CWAs: 1) increased physical activity and improved blood pressure control; 2) better scientific writing skills among health science students; 3) improved medical student self-confidence and communication skills, however worse diagnostic skills; and 4) better nursing leadership skills. Conclusions: Although there are many studies about CWAs in healthcare, a formal systematic review still needs to be conducted to further assess their impact on healthcare delivery and inform future clinical trials.