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Use of medicinal plants for COVID-19 prevention and respiratory symptom treatment during the pandemic in Cusco, Peru: A cross-sectional survey

Citation

Villena-Tejada, Magaly et al. (2021), Use of medicinal plants for COVID-19 prevention and respiratory symptom treatment during the pandemic in Cusco, Peru: A cross-sectional survey, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.ghx3ffbpg

Abstract

Background: The burden of the COVID-19 pandemic in Peru has led to people seeking alternative treatments as preventives and treatment options such as medicinal plants. This study aimed to assess factors associated with the use of medicinal plants as preventive or treatment of respiratory symptom related to COVID-19 during the pandemic in Cusco, Peru.

Method: A web-based cross-sectional study was conducted on general public (20- to 70-year-old) from August 31 to September 20, 2020. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire via Google Forms, it consisted of an 11-item questionnaire that was developed and validated by expert judgment using Aiken's V (Aiken's V > 0.9). Both descriptive statistics and bivariate followed by multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted to assess factors associated with the use of medicinal plants for COVID-19 prevention and respiratory symptom treatment during the pandemic. Prevalence ratios (PR) with 95% Confidence Interval (CI), and a P-value of 0.05 was used to determine statistical significance.

Results: A total of 1,747 respondents participated in the study, 80.2% reported that they used medicinal plants as preventives, while 71% reported that they used them to treat respiratory symptoms. At least, 24% of respondents used medicinal plants when presenting with two or more respiratory symptoms, while at least 11% used plants for malaise. For treatment or prevention, the multivariate analysis showed that most respondents used eucalyptus (p ​​< 0.001 for both), ginger (p​​ < 0.022 for both), spiked pepper (p < 0.003 for both), garlic (p = 0.023 for prevention), and chamomile (p = 0.011 for treatment). The respondents with COVID-19 (p < 0.001), at older ages (p = 0.046), and with a family member or friend who had COVID-19 (p < 0.001) used more plants for prevention. However, the respondents with technical or higher education used less plants for treatment (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: There was a significant use of medicinal plants for both prevention and treatment, which was associated with several population characteristics and whether respondents had COVID-19.

Methods

We conducted an online cross-sectional multicenter survey, which was initially evaluated by 10 expert judges using Aiken's V (40). After including the experts’ observations, a pilot study was performed (from August 16 to 4) with 336 respondents in in five districts of Cusco, Peru. The pilot data was used to calculate the minimal sample size necessary for the actual study. It was determined that a minimum sample size of 1,530 was necessary to achieve a minimum percentage difference of 2.5% (49.0% versus 51.5%), a statistical power of 80%, and a confidence level of 95%. The sample size was calculated using power analysis.

The actual survey consisted of an online questionnaire that was sent via WhatsApp, Messenger, and Facebook. The shared questionnaire was made anonymous ensuring data confidentiality and reliability. The survey was performed from August 31 to September 20, 2020 after approximately 9 months of lockdown and social distancing measures in Peru due to the COVID-19 outbreak. At the beginning of the survey (August 31) the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases was 652,037 and 28,944 deaths, while at the end of the survey (September 20) the confirmed cases increased to 772,896 and the deaths increased to 31,474. We surveyed general public who were adults of both genders aged 20 to 70 years in five districts of Cusco, Peru with high-risk COVID-19 transmission according to the Epidemiological Alert AE-017-2020. The five districts were Cusco, San Jerónimo, San Sebastián, Santiago, and Wanchaq. Participants were recruited by the research team of the Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco.

Usage Notes

See the README file

Funding

Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco (UNSAAC), Award: R-446-2020-UNSAAC

Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco (UNSAAC), Award: R-446-2020-UNSAAC