Effects of War Trauma on Preschool Children Anxiety and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Gaza strip
Heba Riyad AL-Ghalayini
هبة رياض الغلايني
Aim of the study: the study aims at exploring the effects of recurrent wars trauma on developing PTSD and anxiety disorders among preschool children in Gaza strip, and it’s relation with some other socio-demographic factors such as the number of siblings, sex and family income. Descriptive analytic, cross sectional design was used. Methods: the researcher used Gaza traumatic events checklist, UCLA PTSD reactions index parents form, and Spence anxiety scales for parents of preschool children as well as a socio-demographic status form. Sample consisted of: 399 mothers of preschool children who are attending kindergartensin the five governorates of Gaza Strip aged from 3-6 years old. Results: the researcher found that 26.6% of preschool children were exposed to severe traumatic events, 46.6% to moderate traumatic events and 26.8% to mild traumatic events. The prevalence of PTSD after more than 6 months of being exposed to war traumatic events was 6%. The study found that PTSD scores were higher among children whose age was 5 than among the two other age groups. The mean of anxiety disorders among preschool children was 49.8 %, this result is not only related to exposure to war traumatic events, as other factors could play a role in developing anxiety disorders such as the different parenting styles, abuse, culture, and parents mental health problems. Specific phobia constituted the highest prevalence followed by generalized anxiety and separation anxiety. The results showed that there was significant correlation between trauma and total PTSD and anxiety results, As well a significant correlation between PTSD results and anxiety results, meaning that the more the preschooler was exposed to war traumatic events, the more likely that he will suffer from PTSD and anxiety symptoms, In addition children suffering from PTSD are more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders. The study did not find any differences in males and females results in relation to trauma, PTSD or anxiety. Recommendations: further researches should involve the psychiatric assessment of primary care givers in parallel with that of children in order to understand the impacts of family and social support on developing PTSD and anxiety problems in preschool children in Gaza strip, in addition more in-depth studies measuring the effect of the number of traumatic events, as well as the severity of exposure to different types of war related trauma should be conducted instead of only depending on the counting of the traumatic events that preschool children experienced for determining the severity of traumatic events.