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Risk factors for PTSD, anxiety, and depression among adolescents in gaza

Authors


  • The present research project was financially supported by Psychology Beyond Borders and the Children and War Foundation. The authors are grateful to the adolescents who participated in the present study, to the teachers and headmasters of the schools, and to the staff at the Child and Family Training and Counseling Center in Gaza (CFTCC) for assistance and participation. We also appreciate the cooperation of the Education Department of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and The Ministry of Education in Gaza.

Abstract

The present study examined among adolescents in Gaza the relationship between exposure to war stressors and psychological distress as well as the effects of age, gender, and socioeconomic status. Data were collected from a sample of 139 adolescents 12 to 17 years old. Results showed that adolescents reported elevated levels of intrusion, avoidance, and depression compared to levels in communities not affected by war in the recent past. The proportion scoring within the clinical range of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was 56.8% compared to 6.3% in peacetime populations, reflecting a Hedges's g of 1.29 (p < .001). Significant risk factors for PTSD were exposure (β = .377, p < .001), female gender (β = −.257, p < .001), older age (β = .280, p < .01), and an unemployed father (β = −.280, p < .01). Risk factors for anxiety were exposure (β = .304, p < .001), female gender (β = −.125, p < .01), and older age (β = 272, p < .01), whereas female gender (β = <.238, p < .001) was the only significant risk factor for depression. The present study suggests large individual differences in how adolescents are affected by war stressors.

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