The experiences of people who quit khat and the health care professionals who support them

Document Type : Original Article


School of Health Sciences, Division of Health Services Research and Management, University of London, London, England


Background: This study aimed to explore the barriers and enablers to quitting khat from the perspective of
users and the barriers and enablers to supporting users to quit from the perspective of healthcare
professionals (HCPs).
Methods: The present qualitative study was conducted using semi-structured interviews and the Theoretical
Domains Framework (TDF) to collect and analyse data.
Findings: Overall, 10 khat users and 3 professionals were interviewed. Beliefs about the consequences of
continued use facilitated user’s decisions to quit. Social influences were both a barrier and an enabler. For
professionals, the social influence of other colleagues and working together was key in enabling them to
support clients. Social/professional role and identity was also an important enabler, as professionals saw
supporting users to quit as an integral part of their role. A range of behaviour change techniques was
identified as potential ways in which quitting attempts could be more successful, from the perspective of
users and professionals.
Conclusion: The study reveals the complexity of khat chewing and quitting from the perspective of khat users,
such as the varied influence of family and friends. It also identifies the many barriers and enablers that
professionals experience when supporting individuals to quit, such as working with other professionals.
There is little evidence for the effectiveness of current services provided for quitting khat or little information
outlining how they were developed. Current services would benefit from evaluating the effectiveness of the
interventions using established methodology. Recommendations have been provided for practice in the field
of substance misuse.


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