Complementary and alternative medicine use in the prevention of COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional survey in Kerala, India


  • G. K. Mini Global Institute of Public Health, Ananthapuri Hospitals and Research Institute, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
  • Chitra A. Grace Global Institute of Public Health, Ananthapuri Hospitals and Research Institute, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
  • Lordson Jinbert Global Institute of Public Health, Ananthapuri Hospitals and Research Institute, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India



COVID-19, Complementary medicine, Alternative medicine, India


Background: Globally, there is evidence of increased Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use during epidemics, and pandemics.  Recent studies have shown that there is an increased use of CAM during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The aim of the study was to investigate the pattern of CAM practice in the prevention of COVID-19 pandemic among adults in Kerala state, India.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional descriptive study conducted in the first week of June 2021 among adults residing in Kerala state. The study used a pre-tested google form to collect the data. A total of 548 individuals aged 18-84 years answered an online questionnaire for the present study.

Results: A higher proportion (52.4%) of participants were aged <30 years, 30.8% were males, 55.3% rural residents, 26.6% health care professionals, and 51.1% had a regular income. CAM use prevalence was 59.3% (95% CI: 55.1 to 63.3). Social media (46.9%) was the most frequently reported source of CAM. The age-adjusted analysis results showed that CAM use was higher among health professionals (OR: 2.15, 95% CI: 1.41-3.27), those who did not believe that vaccine could prevent coronavirus (OR: 1.91 CI: 1.08-3.39), and those who were having no regular income (OR: 1.56, CI: 1.04-2.34), compared to their counterparts.

Conclusions: Close to 60% of CAM use in this population is a public health concern since the efficacy of CAM use for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 is not known.  The CAM users will be under a sense of false protection, which is likely to negate vaccination and seeking proper treatment for COVID -19 in Kerala.

Author Biography

G. K. Mini, Global Institute of Public Health, Ananthapuri Hospitals and Research Institute, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

GK Mini is an Associate Professor at the Global Institute of Public Health at the Ananthapuri Hospitals and Research Institute in Thiruvananthapuram, India. She is also the co- Founding Director of the Women’s Institute of Social and Health Studies (WISHS) at the Women’s Social and Health Studies Foundation in Thiruvananthapuram, India.  She joined Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, as a Research Associate in 2003 after completing her PhD in Demography from University of Kerala. She has served as a Consultant with various organizations, including UNDP and UNWFP. Her research interest focuses broadly on population and health including chronic disease epidemiology, biostatistics, and social determinants of health. The specific areas of her research cover a broad spectrum of social determinants of health including demographics, education, inequalities in health and healthcare outcomes, socio-economic determinants of non-communicable and chronic disease outcomes.

Mini is also the Bernard Lown Scholar in Cardiovascular Health at the Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her research career spans over 20 years and she has published more than 70 peer-reviewed articles in national and international journals and five books/official reports for national and international organizations including United Nations. She has been serving as Editorial team member of several journal including Frontiers in Public Health and Global health Epidemiology and genomics. 


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How to Cite

Mini, G. K., Grace, C. A., & Jinbert, L. (2021). Complementary and alternative medicine use in the prevention of COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional survey in Kerala, India. International Journal Of Community Medicine And Public Health, 8(11), 5329–5337.



Original Research Articles