Khat dependence, use patterns, and health consequences in Australia: An exploratory study
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Objective: The identification of khat dependence and the association between khat dependence, use patterns, and related health problems have not been quantitatively described in Australia. The current study aimed to describe khat dependence, use patterns, and khatrelated health problems in Australian migrant communities. Method: A 48-item questionnaire was administered to a convenience sample of 52 participants from African migrant communities who self-reported using khat in four Australian state capital cities between April 1 and June 1, 2012. Associations between Severity of Dependence Scale for khat use (SDS-khat) screening status, use patterns, and khat-related psychological and physical health problems were assessed using multivariate loglinked Poisson regression controlling for potential sociodemographic confounders. Results: Overall, 44.2% (n = 23) of the study participants screened positive on the SDS-khat, indicating probable khat dependence. Screening positive for khat dependence was associated with increased risk for khat use frequency in the last 30 days (adjusted prevalence risk ratio [APRR] = 2.26, 95% CI [1.23, 4.15], p =.009), experiencing three or more psychological health problems (APRR = 1.87, 95% CI [1.04, 3.36], p =.037), and experiencing two or more physical health problems (APRR = 1.92, 95% CI [1.13, 3.27], p =.016) after using khat. Conclusions: Screening positive on the SDS-khat is associated with increased recent khat use frequency and elevated physical and psychological health problems, providing preliminary evidence that probable khat use dependence may be associated with an increased risk of harm in Australia. Furthermore, these preliminary results support the potential utility of the SDS-khat to healthcare providers to identify those at risk for khatrelated harms. Further investigation into the relationship between khat dependence, use patterns, and related health outcomes is warranted.
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