The impact of political violence on psychosocial functioning of individuals and families: the case of palestinian adolescents



Background:  The impact of political violence on the psychosocial functioning of adolescents and their families was compared for surveyed populations from two regions of Palestine.

Method:  A randomly-selected sample of 971 adolescents (521 from the West Bank and 450 from the Gaza Strip regions, 42% male/57% female) completed scales measuring traumatic event, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), peer relations, mental health, aggression, and family functioning.

Results:  (1) West Bank participants reported a significantly higher level of exposure to political violence and significantly more aggression, mental health symptoms, problems in family and social functioning; (2) Participants exposed to greater political violence reported higher levels of depression, hostility, paranoid ideation, and PTSD; (3) Economic status and level of parental education were related to reduced levels of mental health symptoms and greater family functioning; (4) There were gendered differences.

Conclusions:  The study provides a starting point to begin to compare the experiences and outcomes between Palestinian adolescents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and a basis for considering implications for service delivery and policy makers concerned with the well being of Palestinian communities.