BACKGROUND This study investigates patterns of qat use among 207 Somalis living in London.
METHOD Subjects were recruited using privileged access interviewing. Somalian interviewers were recruited who shared the same culture as the subjects. Data were collected by means of a structured interview.
RESULTS One hundred and sixty-two subjects (78%) had used qat. The majority (76%) used more qat than in Somalia. Some users reported moderate dependence; a minority reported severe problems. Adverse psychological effects included sleep problems, anxiety and depression. Medical problems associated with qat use were rare.
CONCLUSIONS Qat users who continue to use this drug when it is transplanted from a traditional context may experience difficulties. Qat use can also be seen as playing a positive role in supporting the cultural identity of the Somalian community. Severe problems were rarely reported. Qat consumption should be considered when addressing health-related topics with patients from those communities in which qat use is common.