A recent study has found 1 in 20 people in the U.S. who contracted COVID-19 used non-evidence based treatment, such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, due to beliefs in vaccine-related misinformation.
The findings were shared in a study published in the JAMA Health Forum on Friday.
Researchers surveyed nearly 13,450 adults across the U.S. and focused on those who endorsed COVID-19 vaccine-related misinformation, distrusted hospitals, medical professionals, and scientists, and exhibited a greater belief in conspiracy theories, and found they were more likely to use unproven drugs to treat COVID-19.
Out of all study participants, six per cent reported using either ivermectin—an antiphrastic drug– and hydroxychloroquine—a medicine to treat certain types of malaria and lupus as treatment for their COVID-19 infection.
The study’s survey was conducted between December 2022 and January 2023 and included U.S. residents 18 years and older who reported prior COVID-19 infection.
Researchers shared that despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration denouncing the use of these medications for COVID-19 treatment, the number of prescriptions increased in the U.S., Canada and Australia during the first year of the pandemic.
The study also found that respondents who reported trust in social media and Donald Trump were most likely to have taken ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine, while those who trusted in physicians and hospitals were less likely to.
Of the participants, 2,461 out of 10,718 said they endorsed at least one piece of vaccine-related misinformation.
The study also showed that males, people with a college degree, people with greater income and Hispanic people were more likely to have taken ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine. Those aged 65 years and older were associated with being less likely to use a non-evidence based treatment, researchers said.
“These results suggest that the potential harms of misinformation may extend to the use of ineffective and potentially toxic treatments in addition to avoidance of health-promoting behaviours, such as vaccination,” the study concluded.