Attitudes of Chinese immigrants in Canada towards the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine for prevention and management of COVID-19: a cross-sectional survey during the early stages of the pandemic

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BMJ Open. 2021 Sep 14;11(9):e051499. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-051499.


OBJECTION: The objective of this study was to assess attitudes towards the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for COVID-19 among Chinese immigrants in Canada during the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted in April 2020 in Canada. Individuals aged 16 or older who were of Chinese origin and living in Canada at the time of the survey were invited to participate in an online survey. Descriptive and univariate statistics were performed to describe participant attitudes towards various preventive and treatment measures for COVID-19. Multiple logistic regression was used to identify independent associations with sociodemographic factors and attitudes.

RESULTS: A total of 754 eligible respondents were included in the analysis. 65.8% of the participants were female, 77.2% had a university degree or higher and 28.6% were 55 years of age or older. Overall, 48.8% of the study participants believed that TCM was effective in preventing COVID-19% and 46.2% would use TCM if they had COVID-19-related symptoms. However, the corresponding numbers for western medicine were 20.8% and 39.9%, which were statistically lower (p<0.01). Older participants (55+vs <35, OR=3.55 (95% CI 2.05 to 6.14); 35-54 vs <35, OR=1.98 (95% CI 1.27 to 3.08)) and those who were dissatisfied with their income (OR=2.47(95% CI 1.56 to 3.92)) were more likely to believe TCM was effective against COVID-19. Similarly, older participants (55+vs <35, OR=3.13 (95% CI 1.79 to 5.46); 35-54 vs <35, OR=2.25 (95% CI 1.35 to 3.74)), females (OR=1.60 (95% CI 1.15 to 2.23)), and those born in mainland China (OR=10.49 (95% CI 2.32 to 47.39)) were more likely to use TCM if they had symptoms of COVID-19.

CONCLUSION: Despite the lack of scientific evidence to support its use, TCM was widely believed by Chinese immigrants in Canada to be an effective means of preventing COVID-19 and many also stated they would use it if they were experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

PMID:34521675 | DOI:10.1136/bmjopen-2021-051499