05 July 2009



Four of the top ten causes of the global burden of disease are mental disorders including Unipolar major depression, alcohol and substance abuse, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder 14. The basic tenet in the concept of disease burden is that a chronic illness imposes restrictions in how fully the individual can function and or make free choices in life. However it is not always easy to comprehensively measure the impact of chronic illnesses since it may not be possible to measure the hidden and undefined burden of such illnesses 5. In the case of alcohol dependence, possible ways to measure the burden of disease would be to determine the prevalence of alcohol use in the population, or the prevalence of liver cirrhosis or cancer, mortality associated with liver cirrhosis or cancer, or fatal accidents positively associated with alcohol use. It is also possible to infer alcohol related disease burden by estimating the prevalence or incidence of psychiatric disorders or suicide and attempted suicide associated with primary alcohol use in the population.

Information from the Uganda Police Headquarters showed that one hundred seventy seven officers had been admitted to Butabika Hospital due to alcohol related problems from 1992 to 2002. On average, 12 police officers per 1000 were admitted to the mental hospital per annum from an estimated population of 14,000. During the early part of 2002, at least 350 police officers were implicated in alcohol related disciplinary problems. The present study was conducted to determine the magnitude and psychosocial problems associated with the use of alcohol by members of the Uganda Police Force (UPF) in Kampala district. The aim of the study was to highlight the public health importance of alcohol dependence in the UPF in relation to implications for the security of society when police officers who are entrusted with the task of guaranteeing the safety and security of society suffer from various forms of impairment associated with alcohol use.

Methods of study

Study design and sites

A cross-sectional survey of a sample of police officers resident in two police barracks in Kampala district designated as Barracks I and Barracks II was conducted in the months of March to May 2002 using systematic sampling strategy. (The two barracks are represented with codes out of ethical need to protect the anonymity of the stations and the officers therein). The total population at Barracks I was 3505 with 701 (20%) of this being police officers. Police Officers at this barracks are responsible for security on highways and situations of unrest. At Barracks II, the total population at the time of the survey was 11,226 residents with 1618 (14.4%) of this being police officers.

Sampling procedure

Sampling was achieved by systematic sampling procedure using police register provided by Police Headquarters. The procedure involved drawing up a list of police officers from the rank of Constable to Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP). A sampling interval of 20 was calculated for a convenient sample size of at least 100 respondents from both barracks. The first respondent was randomly selected by drawing a lottery of the first 20 members on the list from each barracks. Thereafter, every 20th police officer was selected from the list by adding the sampling interval to the number of the last respondent. A selected officer who refused to participate was skipped and the next person on the list was selected. The procedure was continued until the list of police officers at each barracks was exhausted. The respective numbers of interviewees from the two barracks reflected the proportional size of each barracks. Thus 40 interviewees came from Barracks I and 64, from Barracks II giving a total sample size of 104 respondents.

Data collection

Data was collected using a semi-structure questionnaire designed for the study. The instrument included data on socio-demographic characteristics of respondents, criteria for alcohol dependence based on ICD-10 [1], and a range of medical and psychosocial problems associated with alcohol dependence in Uganda. Each respondent was interviewed at his or her residence in the barracks. One of us (CM) conducted all interviews after he was trained for the purpose. The interviewer read out each question to the respondent and recorded all answers in the appropriate sections of the questionnaire.

Details of medical and psychosocial data collected

Health service use: Respondents were asked if they had used hospital facilities, private clinics, or police clinic during the three months prior to the survey. The respondents also provided information on admissions to hospital on account of their own poor health.

Job satisfaction: Respondents rated their level of job satisfaction along a 10-point scale. A position at or near 10 indicated a high level of job satisfaction, and that near zero indicated dissatisfaction. During analysis, the respondents were grouped according to their individual positions along the scale, namely: 0–3 for extremely dissatisfied; 4–6 for satisfied; 7–9 for moderately satisfied; and 10 for extremely satisfied. Respondents were distributed according to their levels of satisfaction with their occupation.

Project development: Respondents were asked if they had started a developmental project to supplement their income, or built a house in their home village.

Savings: Respondents were asked to provide information on their level of monthly savings based on their salary and or other sources of income.

Extra income: Respondents provided information on whether they had extra sources of income than their monthly salary.

Recreational activities: Respondents provided information on the form of recreational activities they engaged in during their free times.

Absenteeism: Respondents were asked to estimate the number of days off work during the past three months.

Disciplinary problems: Respondents were asked if they had ever been demoted or reprimanded at work as a result of alcohol use.



  2. You are running a wonderful program. Please keep it up.
    We know its quite challenging to manage an alcohol prevention project, but we pray for you. one day God will listen to your voice.

    Be blessed.
    Pst. Jim