Relationship between Trauma due to Winter Storm Alexa, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Other Mental Health Problems of Palestinian Children in Gaza Strip

Aim: This study investigated the relationship between trauma due to winter storm Alexa, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems (MHPs) of Palestinian children in Gaza Strip. 

Method: The sample consisted of 105 boys (50%) and 105 girls (50%) selected from 3 of the most affected areas by flooding in 2014 due to Alex storm in Gaza Strip. Participant’s age ranged from 9 to 18 with a mean age of 13.05 years. Mental health status was assessed by a socio-demographic scale, the Trauma due to Flood Scale, the Revised Impact of Events Scale (IES-R), and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)-parent form. 

Results: Overall, there were no statistically significant differences between boys and girls in total traumatic events (5.98 vs. 6.41). Mean PTSD symptoms was 28.82, intrusion symptoms was 7.4, avoidance symptoms was 10.08, and arousal symptoms was 11.33, 47.6% of children were considered as PTSD. Girls reported significantly more PTSD symptoms and avoidance symptoms compared to boys. Total traumatic events were significantly correlated to post-traumatic stress reaction symptoms and with intrusion symptoms. Using the SDQ-parent form, 40% of children were rated by parents as caseness, 24.3% as hyperactive, 51.9% as having emotional problems, 46.2% had conduct problems, 55.7% had peer problems, and 2.9% had abnormal prosocial behavior. Post-traumatic stress reaction symptoms were correlated only with emotional problems rated by parents. 

Conclusion and Implications: This study has important implications for need of establishing and implementing psychosocial intervention programs for school-aged children in the Gaza Strip not only for those victims of political violence but also for children exposed to other types of traumatic events such as natural disasters. 

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Abdel Aziz Thabet, MB, MD, PhD ; Sana Sabah Thabet, BA, MPH ; Panos Vostanis, MB, MD, FRCPsych | 2016
In: Psychology and Cognitive Sciences Open Journal (PCSOJ) ; ISSN: 2472-9469 | 2 | 2 | 66-72
Children, Depressive Symptoms, Disasters, Females, Floods, Israel-Gaza War, Males, Mental health, Natural Disasters, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), School Age Children, Statistical Analysis, Traumatic events