221644 Mental health sequela of political conflict: An etiological examination of unique and overlapping domains of trauma and stress

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cindy Sousa, MSW/MPH , School of Social Welfare, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Mona el-Zuhairi , Palestinian Medical Relief Society, Ramallah, Palestine, Palestine
Marah Hriesh , Palestinian Medical Relief Society, Ramallah, Palestine, Palestine
(PMRS) Palestinian Medical Relief Society , PMRS Building, Palestinian Medical Relief Society, Ramallah, Palestine
We now know more about mental health consequences for civilians in war and conflict zones. For example, scholars estimate civilians exposed to armed violence experience mental health disorders at a rate of 3-10 times those not exposed. However, particular domains of stress and trauma may act uniquely to disrupt balance and wellness. Central questions thus remain. What differentiates political violence from other forms of violence? How do we accurately conceptualize events and processes of political violence related to mental health? This study explores these questions, offering an etiological examination of mental health sequela related to political stress and trauma. Qualitative and quantitative research was conducted over 16 weeks in the West Bank, Palestine. Procedures included participant observation, key informant interviews with health care providers, focus groups in five sectors and surveys (N = 142). Respondents were drawn from non-clinical client populations (i.e. general health, eye-care clinics). Events related to political conflict was significantly correlated with mental distress, r(35) = + .340 (p < .05). Results support theoretical domains of violation tested through analysis and interpretation: loss of place/dislocation; material loss; loss and separation from family and community; and constant surveillance and control. Distinct sequela of mental health outcomes occurred within specific domains of political violence. Findings suggest a few central constructs through which the processes of political trauma may act: inability to protect ones' family; humiliation; entrapment and loss of control. Results underscore the importance of investigation into specific pathways through which political violence affects mental health.

Learning Areas:
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
- Differentiate between various domains of trauma and stress related to political violence; discuss their differential relationships to mental health outcomes.

Keywords: Violence, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: It is original research conducted by myself through field work done in the geographic area over a period of over 16 weeks.
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.