206994 Trauma, mental health, and resilience: Women in the West Bank, Palestine

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cindy Sousa, MSW/MPH , School of Social Welfare, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Mustafa Barghouthi, MD, MSc , Palestinian Medical Relief Society, Ramallah, Palestine, Palestine
Mona el-Zuhairi , Palestinian Medical Relief Society, Ramallah, Palestine, Palestine
Marah Hriesh , Palestinian Medical Relief Society, Ramallah, Palestine, Palestine
Bahia Amra , Palestinian Medical Relief Society, Ramallah, Palestine, Palestine
Continued investigation into the prevalence and effects of political trauma on mental health outcomes is essential and timely. Equally imperative are examinations of potential protective factors involved in this relationship. Using a mixed method design, this study examines the relationship between trauma, mental health, and resilience among women in the West Bank, Palestine.

With the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), we conducted qualitative and quantitative research over 16 weeks through participant observation, key informant interviews with health care providers, focus groups in five sectors and surveys. Focus group and survey respondents were drawn from PMRS' non-clinical client population (i.e. general health, children's rehabilitation, and eye-care clinics).

Survey respondents reported sizable trauma related to political conflict; about 25% reported separation from family due to Israeli security measures; roughly 65% reported at least one traumatic event, including having their home or business demolished (12%) and having been beaten (12%) or strip-searched (17%) by Israeli forces. Traumatic events related to political conflict was significantly correlated with mental distress, r(35) = + .340 (p < .05).

Participants named several coping strategies used by individuals, families, and communities. These included individual characteristics such as hope and willpower. They also included communal characteristics, values and practices (i.e. collective will and cooperation; connection to land, one's faith and education).

Results demonstrate a significant relationship between trauma of political conflict and mental health, adding to those studies that have previously examined this question. They also underscore the importance of examining protective factors that may moderate this relationship.

Learning Objectives:
- Analyze the connection between trauma of a political nature and mental health outcomes. - Discuss the role of protective factors in trauma.

Keywords: Mental Health, Violence

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: It is original research. I hold a MSW from Portland State University and a Masters in Public Health with a Certificate in Global Health from the University of Washington. I am currently doing a PhD in Social Welfare at the University of Washington. My work experience includes program provision for and management of peer health education, advocacy, and counseling programs for homeless, immigrant, adjudicated, or underserved youth, adults, and families. My current areas of research focus are trauma, prevention, resiliency and mental health, particularly impacts, intergenerational transmission, and moderators of recurring complex trauma.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.