Objective: Children and adolescents of the Gaza Strip have been subjected to continuous violence since the eruption of the second Intifada (Uprising). Little is known, however, about the psychological effects of this violence on children and adolescents of Gaza. Thus, the purpose of the present investigation was to evaluate and describe the psychological effects of exposure of war-like circumstances on this population.
Method: Participants for this study were 229 Palestinian adolescents living in the Gaza Strip who were administered measures of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and coping.
Results: Of the 229 participants, 68.9% were classified as having developed PTSD, 40.0% reported moderate or severe levels of depression, 94.9% were classified as having severe anxiety levels, and 69.9% demonstrated undesirable coping responses. A canonical discriminant analysis revealed that adolescents diagnosed with PTSD tended to be those who reported the highest levels of depression, anxiety, and positive reappraisal coping, and the lowest levels of seeking guidance and support coping.
Conclusions: These results indicate that a significant proportion of Palestinian adolescents living in the Gaza Strip are experiencing serious psychological distress.