Prophylactic Medications Taken by Healthcare Workers for COVID‑19; A Mixed Methods Study from South India

Gnanamani Gnanasabai, Gitismita Naik, Chithra Boovaragasamy, M Mohan Kumar


Background: COVID‑19 is an unprecedented pandemic that has taken the modern world under seize. In spite of lack of solid evidence, certain federal governments had recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), chloroquine, and azithromycin as prophylactic medications either for contacts or for healthcare providers in particular. The objective of this study is to assess the issues related to intake of prophylactic medications in view of COVID‑19 and the proportion and pattern of side effects. Methods: A descriptive cross‑sectional study was conducted using mixed methods approach among healthcare workers in Puducherry, India. Results: HCQ was the prophylactic drug taken by all the participants (n = 26). Of the 26, 15.4% had a baseline ECG, 26.9% took HCQ based on the recommended Day 1 dose of 800 mg and 61.5% of the participants had the drug provided by the hospital where they work. Reasons for taking prophylaxis were sense of vulnerability (due to co‑morbidities, lack of PPE kits) and peer practice. However, the participants did not recommend prophylactic medication to others due to lack of evidence, death claims related to prophylactic drugs in media, hospitals not taking responsibility of baseline monitoring and need for long follow‑up. Conclusions: The data on assessment of HCQ prophylaxis indicates only minor side‑effects, though limited by sample size. Evidence‑based recommendations on prophylactic drugs for COVID‑19, effective risk communication, peer education and support, accountability, ease of baseline, and follow‑up investigations were the need of the hour to improve intake and adherence to prophylactic regime for COVID‑19.


Adverse effects; COVID‑19; healthcare workers; hydroxychloroquine

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