Perception and Knowledge of Students of Medical Colleges towards Dietary Supplements Use for Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19

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Nasr Alotaibi
Malik Mohamed
Haifa Alsirhani
Hala Alsharari


COVID-19; Dietary supplements; perception; vitamins; minerals; Treatment; prophylaxis; medical students


Background: Dietary supplements (DSs) have grown in popularity over the last two decades, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is critical to educate medical students, the future health care providers, about the appropriate and safe use of DSs. Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the knowledge, use, and attitude of undergraduate students at medical colleges at Jouf University towards DSs use for prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Methods: The present descriptive cross‑sectional questionnaire‑based study involved undergraduate medical students at Jouf University, KSA. After ethical approval, data were collected using an online questionnaire through Google forms during the second term of academic year 2021-2022. The questionnaire was divided into two sections composed of four components including Demographics data, health status, use and attitude, and students, perceptions toward dietary supplements use. Data were analyzed by employing GraphPad Prism®9 software. Findings: The questionnaires were completed by 574 students, with 256 (44.5.0%) males and 318 (55.4%) females. Participants who never used DSs (25.78%) were excluded from the study. The most commonly used supplement was multivitamins (24.8%), followed by vitamin D (21.1%). 26.29% used DSs based on HCP advice, while 24.41% made their own decision. The majority (65%) believed that DSs could boost their immune systems, while 35% believed that dietary supplements could always lower the risk of infecting with COVID-19. Approximately 43.7% of participants believed that DSs had no side effects. The majority of participants (46%) believed that DSs intake was not required after COVID-19 vaccination, and 56.6% believed that healthy food could be used instead of DSs. 62% of study participants continued to use DSs after being prescribed them. Approximately 67.6% said they would recommend DSs for COVID-19 prophylaxis and 63.4% said they would recommend DSs for treatment. Conclusion: The current study's findings highlighted the significant prevalence of DSs consumption among students at medical colleges, at Jouf university, based on HCP advice and self-decision. The study suggests educating undergraduate students on the proper use of DSs for COVID-19 treatment or prophylaxis.


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