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.