Presentation Title

Risk and Protective Factors of Substance Abuse in Ghana: A Social-Ecological Perspective Using Photovoice

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Abstract or Description

Introduction: Ghana has been a transition country for the transport of illicit drugs from South America to the Western World, but it has now become a center for operation. This presents serious public health issues including an increased prevalence of drug addiction, violence, and associated communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.

Methods: Photovoice was the process used for this project because it is usually used for those with limited power due to poverty, language barriers, race, class, ethnicity, gender, culture, or other circumstances, in this case substance abuse. Participants in Accra were given the opportunity to identify risk and protective factors of substance abuse in their community using photographs through a participatory action research and social ecological model.

Results: Themes identified by participants included including ignorance, family and peer-pressure, lack of regulations and/or regulation enforcement, availability of drugs, media, urbanization, slums, culture, and low cost of drugs. Protective factors were education and beliefs, family support, religion, after school programs, and media.

Discussion: Photovoice can help guide the development of interventions that are culturally acceptable, economically feasible, sustainable, and efficient. Risk and protective factors mirror those of developed countries like the U.S., however the issues are intensified by extreme poverty, lack of policy, and infrastructure to combat the problems. Action items to address risk factors should include educating Ghanaians that the glamorization of substance use in the Western World movies and music is not reality.


American Public Health Association Annual Meeting (APHA)


Denver, CO