Exposure to war traumatic experiences, post traumatic growth and resilience among university students in Gaza

Abdelaziz Thabet
Elheloub, M.
Vostanisc, P.
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Aim: This study aimed to establish the association between war traumatic experiences, post traumatic growth and resilience among universities students in the Gaza Strip after war on Gaza. Method: The sample consisted of 381 randomly selected student's representing the four major universities in Gaza Strip. Students completed the following self-rated questionnaires: Gaza Traumatic Events Checklist, Resilience scale, and Posttraumatic Growth Inventory. Data collection was done on March -April 2015. Results: Participants reported a range of traumatic events; the highest frequencies reported traumatic events were watching mutilated bodies in TV (94.5%), hearing shelling of the area by artillery (92.4%), hearing the loud voice of drone’s motors (87.4%), and inhalation of bad smells due to bombardment (78.7%). While, the least common traumatic experiences were: hearing killing of a friend (11%), and being arrested during the land incursion witnessing (18.9%). Mean traumatic events reported by universities students were 10 events. While, 6% reported mild, 36% moderate and 58% severe traumatic events. Male students reported more traumatic events than females. Mean post traumatic growth was 67.34, appreciation of life was 7.17, new possibilities were 12.25, the personal strength was 10.62, and spiritual change was 6.82. Males had significantly more post traumatic growth than females and females had significantly more spiritual changes than males. For resilience, mean resilience was 55, personal competence was 22.32, positive acceptance was 13.49, trust in one's instincts was 16.30, control was 7.96, and spiritual influences were 7.31.There were gender differences on resilience subscale. Males had significantly more positive acceptance than females, trust in others, control, spiritual influences, and females had significantly more spiritual changes than males. Traumatic events had no association with post traumatic growth and total resilience. However, resilience was positively correlated with post traumatic growth. Conclusion: Universities students still experienced high levels of distress few months following war on Gaza, although they remained reported trauma. Trauma was not related to resilience and post traumatic growth. This finding highlights the need for establishing special community centers at the universities to help students to overcome the impact of trauma. New programs for psychosocial support and second level intervention for students, and these should continue beyond the end of hostilities. More training courses in the impact of trauma and ways of coping must be conducted for students in the universities.
Gaza , post traumatic growth , resilience , trauma , war