Perceptions of alcohol use among injury patients and their family members in Tanzanian society

Brian J.Meier MD a,b, DeenaEl-GabriMScGH, a, Mark Mvungi MD,c, Blandina T. Mmbaga MD, MMed, PhD a,c,e, Joao Ricardo Nickenig Vissoci PhD a,b,d, Catherine A.Staton MD, MSc GH, a,b,d
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Alcohol is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Rates of alcohol abuse in Moshi, Tanzania, are about 2.5 times higher than the Tanzanian average. We sought to qualitatively assess the perceptions of alcohol use among injury patients in Moshi, including availability, consumption patterns, abuse, and treatments.


Participants were Emergency Department injury patients, their families, and community advisory board members. Participants were included if they were ≥15 years of age, a patient or patient’s family member seeking care at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center Emergency Department, Moshi, Tanzania, for an acute injury, clinically sober at the time of enrollment, medically stable, able to communicate in Swahili and consented to participate. Focus group discussions were audiotaped, transcribed, translated, and analyzed in parallel using an inductive thematic content analysis approach. Resultant themes were then reanalyzed to ensure internal homogeneity and external heterogeneity.


Fourteen focus group discussions, with a total of 15 participants (40 patients, 50 family members, 15 community advisory board members), were conducted. Major themes resulting from the analysis included: 15) Early/repeated exposure; 2) Moderate use as a social norm with positive attributes; 3) Complications of abuse are widely stigmatized; and 4) Limited knowledge of availability of treatment.


Our findings suggest that, among our unique injury population and their families, despite the normalization of alcohol-related behaviors, there is strong stigma toward complications stemming from excess alcohol use. Overall, resources for alcohol treatment and cessation, although broadly desired, are unknown to the injury population.