The health impacts of Khat: a qualitative study among Somali-Australians

Douglas, Heather, Boyle, Merali and Lintzeris, Nicholas (2011) The health impacts of Khat: a qualitative study among Somali-Australians. The Medical Journal of Australia, 195 11/12: 666-669. doi:10.5694/mja11.10166

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Author Douglas, Heather
Boyle, Merali
Lintzeris, Nicholas
Title The health impacts of Khat: a qualitative study among Somali-Australians
Journal name The Medical Journal of Australia   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0025-729X
Publication date 2011-12-01
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.5694/mja11.10166
Volume 195
Issue 11/12
Start page 666
End page 669
Total pages 4
Editor Annette Katelaris
Place of publication Strawberry Hills, NSW, Australia
Publisher Australasian Medical Publishing
Language eng
Subject 111712 Health Promotion
Formatted abstract
To identify patterns of khat use among Somali-Australians in Australia and to explore their views about the links between khat use and personal health.

Design, setting and participants:
Qualitative study using semistructured focus groups among adult members of Somali communities in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth who volunteered to attend focus groups in January and December 2010.

Main outcome measures:

Emergent themes related to Somali-Australians’ understanding of the links between khat use and personal health.

Nineteen focus groups included 114 participants. Khat use was reported to be common among the Somali community, and more common among men than women. Khat was usually chewed in prolonged sessions, producing mild psychostimulant effects such as increased energy, enhanced mood, reduced appetite and reduced sleep. Khat was widely perceived to be a food, not a drug, and as harmless, or even beneficial, to the user’s health. Many users reported discontinuation effects such as lethargy, sleep disturbances and mood problems after sessions of heavy khat use, and some reported selfmedicating with alcohol to cope with such problems. Problems of addiction to khat were identified by some participants, but not all believed it is addictive. Many khat users reported visiting their health professionals for treatment of adverse effects and failing to disclose their khat use.


Health professionals require greater awareness of khat use and related health problems. Health promotion activities targeting communities with high levels of khat use are required to increase understanding of the potential risks of regular khat use, to promote harm-reduction strategies, and to increase awareness of services available for those experiencing harm. Health professionals should consider targeted screening for khat use among individuals from Horn of Africa communities who present to health services.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
TC Beirne School of Law Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 14 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 17 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 13 Dec 2011, 22:45:21 EST by Carmen Buttery on behalf of T.C. Beirne School of Law