Self-reported health complaints in a primary care population living under stressful conditions in the Gaza Strip, Palestine

Med Confl Surviv. 2010 Jan-Mar;26(1):68-79. doi: 10.1080/13623690903553269.


Background: The population in the Gaza Strip has been living under chronically stressful conditions as a result of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Objectives: To identify health complaints reported by attendants consulting primary care physicians in the Gaza Strip.

Methods: The study took place in 10 governmental primary health care centres and 5 clinics of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip, during autumn 2005. Self-reported health complaints were recorded through face-to-face interviews with 956 respondents using a validated and reliable questionnaire.

Results: Abdominal pain and headache were the most frequent complaints reported among patients aged 18 to 44 years, accounting for 23.3% and 22.7% of total complaints in males and females, respectively. Fatigue and joint pain were the most common complaints among patients aged 45 years and above, accounting for 26% and 33.9% of total complaints in males and females, respectively.

Conclusions: The most common complaints, as reported by patients attending PHC facilities were stress-related and could be attributed to the ongoing conflict and high level of violence and uncertainty in the area. These complaints present a challenge to primary care providers in their efforts to improve the everyday quality of life of Palestinian residents with scarce means and resources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / epidemiology
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arabs
  • Arthralgia / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Headache / epidemiology
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Middle East / epidemiology
  • Primary Health Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult