Use and perception of the psychostimulant, khat (catha edulis) among three occupational groups in south western Uganda

Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


Objective: To examine the use of and perception of the psychostimulant, khat (catha edulis) in three towns in south-western Uganda.

Design: Cross-sectional survey. Settings: Mbarara, Kabale and Fort Portal. Subjects: Three categories of respondents prone to khat chewing habit were selected; One hundred and thirty students, thirty five law enforcement officials and sixteen transporters.

Main outcome measures: Khat chewers existed within the sampled population. The relationship between tobacco smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages and the khat chewing habit was established. Results: Out of 181 respondents, 164(90.6%) had heard of khat, 126(69.6%) had seen it and 57(31.5%) had chewed khat before. As at the time of this study, 37(20.4%) still chewed khat. Within the three categories of subjects, the use of khat was highest among law enforcement officials (97.1%), followed by transporters (68.8%) and students (9.2%). The majority of khat chewers were in the age range of 16-25 years. There was a clear correlation between khat chewing and the use of stimulants such as alcoholic beverages and tobacco smoking. Those who smoked cigarettes were twenty-eight times more likely to chew khat (OR=28.95% Cl=9.6,83.7). Euphoria, suppressed sleep and increased sexual desire were the most predominant effects experienced by khat chewers. Conclusion: The knowledge of khat is widespread and its consumption is on the increase among students, law enforcement officials and transporters in south-western Uganda. This calls for attention considering the public health implications


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

East African Medical Journal