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Prevalence and determinants of PTSD among Palestinian children exposed to military violence

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The prevalence and determinants of PTSD were assessed among 121 Palestinian children (6–16 years; 45% girls and 55% boys) living in the area of bombardment. The mothers (21–55 years) and the children themselves reported their exposure to military violence (being personally the target of violence or witnessing it towards others) and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD: intrusion, avoidance and hypervigilance). The results showed that 54% of the children suffered from severe, 33.5 % from moderate and 11 % from mild and doubtful levels of PTSD. Girls were more vulnerable; 58% of them suffered from severe PTSD, and none scored on the mild or doubtful levels of PTSD. The child’s gender and age, mother’s education and PTSD symptoms were significant, and the exposure to traumatic experiences marginally significant determinants of children’s PTSD symptoms. The most vulnerable to intrusion symptoms were younger girls whose mothers showed a high level of PTSD symptoms, whereas those most vulnerable to avoidance symptoms were children who had personally been targets of military violence and whose mothers were better educated and showed a high level of PTSD symptoms. The results are discussed in the context of military violence interfering with the protective function of family and home.

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Correspondence to Raija-Leena Punamäki.

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Qouta, S., Punamäki, RL. & El Sarraj, E. Prevalence and determinants of PTSD among Palestinian children exposed to military violence. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 12, 265–272 (2003).

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