Online Program

Political violence and health among Palestinian women: The protective effects of internal and external coping strategies

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 1:15 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Cindy Sousa, PhD, MSW, MPH, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA
Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), Al-Bireh PMRS Building, Ramallah, Palestine
Political violence compromises both the physical and mental health of civilians, increasing risks for PTSD, depression, and anxiety, and physical symptoms like pain and weakness. Nonetheless, scholarship increasingly highlights how people effectively mobilize internal and external resources to cope with political violence. More research is needed, however, on coping within political violence among adults, particularly women. The study population was adult Palestinian women from the West Bank (N= 122). Two hypotheses were examined: (1) exposure to political violence correlates with poorer physical and mental health; (2) internal and external coping resources (proactive coping; self-reliance; reliance on religious, political and family support; political/civic engagement) moderates the effects of political violence, to weaken its effects on physical and mental health (PTSD, distress, and the general health perception and mental health sub-domains of the SF-12). Lifetime and past-30 day measures of political violence were positively correlated with PTSD symptoms (r=.289, p=.006; r=.329, p=.001). Reliance on religious support moderated the effects of past-30 day exposure to political violence on general health perception and mental health in a protective direction (B= 93.071, β = .245, p=.026 and B= 71.737, β = .240, p=.029). Those with high rates of internalized coping (reliance on self, proactive problem solving) demonstrated worse health as political violence increased. Findings demonstrate that the problem of political violence calls for an increased understanding of how various coping strategies might operate among distinct populations. The implications of these results for both domestic and international public health social work practice will be discussed.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Assess the effects of political violence on health, and the possibilities for fostering resilience among populations affected by political violence. Compare internal coping with coping through the use of resources within the social context in terms of the protection they offer against health effects of political violence. Evaluate the importance of an ecological perspective on prevention of trauma resulting from political violence. Identify strategies that might aid in ameliorating the negative sequela resulting from groups’ exposure to political violence.

Keyword(s): War, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the lead researcher. This research was done in partnership with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society. My research focuses on issues of violence and resilience, particularly around understanding and alleviating the effects of political violence on civilian populations.
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.

Back to: 4251.0: International public health