A Meta-Analytic Review of Gender Disparity in the Magnitude of Substance Use among Young People in Ethiopia
Background: Substance use is associated with higher odds of disabilities, mental illness, and loss of productivity, especially in young people. Despite a widespread use of substances by Ethiopian youths, little is known about national estimates to target interventions. This meta-analysis was therefore conducted to estimate the prevalence of substance use and determine the gender differences in substance use among young people in Ethiopia.
Methods: Relevant search engines were used to search published articles in PUBMED, MEDLINE, Cochrane review, CINAHL, and AJOL databases. The meta-analysis was conducted using STATA 14 software. Prevalence and odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were used to determine gender differences in substance use. I2 statistics were used to test heterogeneity of the included studies. Egger’s test was used to assess publication bias.
Results: A total of 37 articles, 38,528 participants, were included in this review. The overall pooled lifetime and current prevalence of any substance use in Ethiopian youth was 33.84% (95%CI = 27.77, 39.91) and 25.2% (95%CI = 20.32, 30.07), respectively. Higher rates of lifetime alcohol consumption (33.95%), khat chewing (24.82%), and cigarette smoking (18.53%) were reported. The odds of substance use was threefold (lifetime OR = 3.2 and current OR = 2.8) in youth males when compared to females.
Conclusions: Nearly one-third of young people in Ethiopia use different substances in their lifetime. Young males are substantially at higher risk of substance use problems than females. Designing school- and community-based interventions appear to improve young people’s awareness towards multifaceted impacts of substance use.
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