Background: There is growing evidence of the impact on children's well-being of exposure to political conflict in such settings as the Palestinian territories. This study examined the impact of child-focused interventions involving structured activities, supported by provision of equipment and training of facilitators. The focus of interventions was participation in recreational, cultural and other non-formal activities supporting the development of resilience. Impacts were hypothesised on children's social and emotional well-being, relationships with parents and degree of future orientation.
Methods: Two hundred and fifty children from the West Bank and 150 children from Gaza took part in the study. Of these 400 children, 300 comprised the intervention group. Fifty children from Gaza and 50 children from the West Bank comprised the comparison group. There were equal numbers of girls and boys in all groups, with similar proportions of children aged between 6 and 11 years, and between 12 and 17 years. Measures used were the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), the Parental Support Scale and the Hopefulness Scale: Youth Version. Assessment was made as children enrolled on the structured activity programmes (T1) and again twelve months later (T2).
Results: There was no difference in the CBCL Total, Internalising or Externalising problem scores at baseline (Time 1) between the children who subsequently took the intervention and those who did not. Compared to children in the comparison group, children in the intervention group had lower CBCL total problem scores, externalising problem scores, and internalising problem scores at Time 2 compared to Time 1. Exposure to the intervention was not associated with changes in children's hopefulness, but those receiving the intervention in the West Bank did report improved parental support at Time 2.
Conclusions: The intervention appeared successful in improving children's emotional and behavioural well-being but not hopefulness. It was also linked with increased parental support in some areas (those located in the West Bank).