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Increase in public interest concerning alternative medicine in Indonesia

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered individuals to increase their healthy behaviour in order to prevent transmission, including improving their immunity potentially through the use of alternative medicines. This study aimed to examine public interest on alternative medicine during the COVID-19 pandemic using Google Trends in Indonesia.
Methods: Employing a quantitative study, the Spearman rank test was used to analyze the correlation between Google Relative Search Volume (RSV) of various search terms, within the categories of alternative medicine, herbal medicine and practical activity, with COVID-19 cases. In addition, time lag correlation was also investigated.
Results: Public interest toward alternative medicine during COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia is dramatically escalating. All search term categories (alternative medicine, medical herbal, and alternative medicine activities) were positively associated with COVID-19 cases (p<0.05). The terms ‘ginger’ (r=0.6376), ‘curcumin’ (r=0.6550) and ‘planting ginger’ (0.6713) had the strongest correlation. Furthermore, time lag correlation between COVID-19 and Google RSV was also positively significant (p<0.05).
Conclusion: Public interest concerning alternative medicine related terms dramatically increased after the first COVID-19 confirmed case was reported in Indonesia. Time lag correlation showed good performance using weekly data. The Indonesian Government will play an important role to provide and monitor information related to alternative medicine in order for the population to receive the maximum benefit.

Corresponding author: Dewi Rokhmah

Competing interests: No competing interests were disclosed.

Grant information: This study was sponsored by Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP).

Copyright: © 2020 Rokhmah D et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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