The Relationship between Khat Use, Trauma and Mental Health Outcomes among Somalis in Mogadishu
Khat is a psychostimulant that is cultivated and commonly used in Eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Existing research on khat has demonstrated that khat use is higher among individuals who have experienced traumatic or stressful events. The current study aimed to examine the relationship between trauma exposure, khat use, and PTSD symptoms through the lens of the self-medication hypothesis. Specifically, this project aimed to: (1) identify how different variables of khat use (i.e., duration of khat use sessions, amount of khat use) relate to severity of dependence, (2) demonstrate that PTE severity is positively associated with elevated khat use, (3) demonstrate that PTE severity is positively associated with PTSD symptom severity in the current sample, (4) demonstrate that PTSD symptom severity is positively associated with elevated khat use, and (5) test a mediation model in which PTSD symptom severity mediates the relationship between PTE severity and khat use intensity.A community sample of 104 khat users (81 men and 23 women) residing in Mogadishu was recruited through convenience sampling. Severity of dependence was assessed using the Severity of Dependence Scale (Gossop et al., 1995), PTEs were assessed using the Life Events Checklist (Weathers et al., 2001), and PTSD symptoms were assessed using the Posttraumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale (Foa, 1997). The SDS was not found to be a reliable measure of dependence in this sample. Item-level analyses showed some positive associations between SDS items and both duration of khat use sessions and amount of khat used in the past week, but the observed relationships were not consistent. Trauma exposure was found to be positively associated with duration of khat use sessions. PTSD symptoms were not associated with khat use. Some gender differences were observed in the above relationships but the small number of women in the sample limited interpretation. Overall, findings from this study suggest that more robust and culturally sensitive measures of khat use are needed to contribute to our understanding of problematic khat use. Additionally, resiliency among communities exposed to continuous traumatic stress may impact the self-medication hypothesis.
Clinical psychology|Mental health
Ahmed, Sagal O, "The Relationship between Khat Use, Trauma and Mental Health Outcomes among Somalis in Mogadishu" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28720038.