Impact of Trauma on Palestinian Childrens and the Role of Coping Strategies

Thabet, Abdel Aziz Mousa
Vostanis, Panos
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Aims: To investigate the impact of war trauma On child mental health; the mediating role of different coping strategies. Methods: The sample was selected randomly from the five localities of the Gaza Strip that had been exposed to war16 months earlier. Children completed the Gaza Traumatic Events Checklist- 20 items-War on Gaza, UCLA PTSD scale, Birleson Depression Scale, Child Revised Manifest Anxiety Scale, and Kidcope for children. Results: Children reported many traumatic events (mean = 4). One third (32.5%) had partial and 12.4% had full criteria of PTSD. Children living in families with low family monthly income reported more emotional problems. There was significant association between exposure to traumatic events and developing PTSD. The rates of significant anxiety and depressive symptoms were 20.5% and 22.3% respectively. Girls reported significantly more depressive symptoms than boys. Children commonly used the following coping strategies: wishful thinking, problem-solving, emotional regulation, and distraction. Trauma was negatively correlated with social support and wishful thinking, and positively correlated with self-criticism. Lack of social support and wishful thinking predicted all three types of mental health problems, while social withdrawal specifically predicted depression. Conclusions: Trauma can have long-standing impact on children’s mental health. Communitybased intervention programmes could enhance children’s resilience. Parents, teachers, universal and specialist mental health practitioners have essential roles in the development and delivery of such programmes.
We are grateful to all the Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip for their involvement. Also, to the data collectors for their valuable input.
War , Gaza , children , PTSD , depression , anxiety , coping