Hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis of COVID-19 physicians survey: Despite lack of evidence, many would take or give to dear ones, and despite the perceived necessity of an RCT, few would participate

J Eval Clin Pract. 2020 Dec;26(6):1579-1582. doi: 10.1111/jep.13484. Epub 2020 Sep 21.


Introduction: There was no evidence concerning the prophylaxis with hydroxychloroquine, and only low-grade evidence regarding the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 patients. We performed a survey among Romanian physicians in order to see how many of them would administer prophylactically hydroxychloroquine to themselves or to people close to them, and if they would participate to a randomized controlled trial.

Methods: Between March 30 and April 02, 2020, a 16-item questionnaire was shared in a Romanian Facebook group of 2645 physicians dedicated to COVID-19 information, asking to be completed by physicians who could be directly involved in the care of these patients.

Results: A total of 785 answers were collected. Nine physicians (1.1%) thought that there was clear evidence on prescribing hydroxychloroquine prophylaxis, 375 (48%) considered the evidence acceptable, 348 (44.3%) considered it weak, whereas 53 (6.8%) answered there was no evidence. 59 (7.5%) respondents were determined to take it (of which 31 = 4% already took), 192 (24.5%) were inclined to take, 271 (34.5%) were not decided yet. 175 (22.3%) of respondents declared they (would) give the treatment to their close ones, and this decision was associated with a higher age (P = 0.003), and the opinion that there was evidence (P < 0.001). When asked about the source of the treatment regimen, 286 (36.4%) indicated a scientific paper, while no scientific paper about the prophylaxis with hydroxychloroquine existed at that time. 718 (91.5%) considered a randomized clinical trial necessary (RCT), but only 333 (42.4%) answered they would enrol in such a trial. There was only a very weak correlation (Kendall's tau _b = 0.255, P < 0.001) between the belief that an RCT is necessary and the willingness to enrol in such an RCT.

Conclusions: Despite the lack of evidence, many physicians considered the evidence as existing, and were ready to take or to give hydroxychloroquine prophylactically to family. They considered an RCT necessary, but they were not willing to participate.

Keywords: COVID-19; hydroxychloroquine; physicians; prophylaxis; randomized controlled trial; survey.

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • COVID-19 / therapy
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxychloroquine / therapeutic use*
  • Inappropriate Prescribing / prevention & control
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Romania


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Hydroxychloroquine