Consumption of Apitherapy Products by Late Adolescents Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Sectional and Comparative Descriptive Study

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Background: Apitherapy has emerged as both a conventional and alternative treatment effective against COVID-19-related symptoms. Objectives: This study aimed to determine the types, frequency, and amount of apitherapy products that late adolescents use before and during the pandemic. Methods: The study employed a cross‐sectional, descriptive, and comparative design. Using stratified random sampling, 3307 late adolescents aged 17 - 21 were included. Data were collected through a questionnaire on demographic characteristics and apitherapy products. Descriptive statistics and paired sample t-tests were used for data analysis, with effect size calculated using Cohen’s d method. Results: Half of the participants (n = 1595, 48.2%) had never heard of “apitherapy” before, while those who had heard mentioned honey (35.6%), pollen (25.5%), propolis (14.9%), royal jelly (11.3%), bee venom (8.4%), and bee bread (4.3%). They reported using these products to “boost their immune systems”, “prevent respiratory infections/reduce cough”, and “reduce nausea and vomiting”. Late adolescents consumed significantly more honey (t = -15.683, P < 0.001, effect size = 0.35), pollen (t = -11.111, P < 0.001; effect size = 0.44), and propolis (t = -15.302, P < 0.001, effect size = 0.45) during the pandemic than before. They primarily examined labels before purchasing (36.4%) and believed that products approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry should be purchased (63.3%). Conclusions: This study underscores the popularity of apitherapy among late adolescents. Further surveys are recommended to better understand young people's apitherapy habits and provide valuable data for healthcare practitioners combating the pandemic.