The limits of resilience: distress following chronic political violence among Palestinians

Soc Sci Med. 2011 Apr;72(8):1400-8. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.02.022. Epub 2011 Mar 8.


We examined posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression symptom trajectories during ongoing exposure to political violence, seeking to identify psychologically resilient individuals and the factors that predict resilience. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with a random sample of 1196 Palestinian adult residents of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem across three occasions, six months apart (September 2007-November 2008). Latent growth mixture modeling identified PTSD, and depression symptom trajectories. Results identified three PTSD trajectories: moderate-improving (73% moderate symptoms at baseline, improving over time), severe-chronic (23.2% severe and elevated symptoms over the entire year); and severe-improving (3.5% severe symptoms at baseline and marked improvement over time). Depression trajectories were moderate-improving (61.5%); severe-chronic (24.4%); severe-improving (14.4%). Predictors of relatively less severe initial symptom severity, and improvement over time for PTSD were less political violence exposure and less resource loss; and for depression were younger age, less political violence exposure, lower resource loss, and greater social support. Loss of psychosocial and material resources was associated with the level of distress experienced by participants at each time period, suggesting that resource-based interventions that target personal, social, and financial resources could benefit people exposed to chronic trauma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arabs / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Politics*
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Young Adult