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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 472302, 7 pages
Research Article

Khat Use: What Is the Problem and What Can Be Done?

1University of Melbourne Department of Psychiatry, St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Fitzroy, VIC 3065, Australia
2Victorian Transcultural Mental Health, St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Fitzroy, VIC 3065, Australia
3Northern Nexus, St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Fitzroy, VIC 3065, Australia
4Elite Enterprises Group Pty Ltd., Preston, VIC 3072, Australia
5St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Fitzroy, VIC 3065, Australia

Received 18 July 2014; Revised 5 November 2014; Accepted 9 December 2014

Academic Editor: Sahoo Saddichha

Copyright © 2015 Yusuf Sheikh Omar et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The chewing of khat leaves is an established tradition in East Africa but is much less prevalent in other areas of the world and is mostly limited to Somali communities. However, our understanding of what constitutes problematic khat use in the Somali community in Victoria, Australia, is limited. The objectives of this study were to better understand the views of Somali community representatives and primary care practitioners regarding problematic khat use, to consider relevant harm minimisation strategies, and to develop resources to assist individuals with problematic khat use and their families. Qualitative research methods were used to investigate the experiences and perceptions of khat use among Somalis and mainstream primary care practitioners. Six focus groups were conducted with 37 members of the Somali community and 11 primary care practitioners. Thematic analysis was used to analyse transcripts. Various indicators of the problematic use of khat were identified, including adverse physical and mental health effects, social isolation, family breakdown, and neglect of social responsibilities. Potential harm minimisation strategies were identified including the adoption of health promotion through education, outreach to the community, and the use of universal harm minimisation strategies specifically tailored to khat use.