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Child Abuse Negl. 2007 Jul;31(7):699-717. Epub 2007 Jul 12.

Predictors of psychological distress and positive resources among Palestinian adolescents: trauma, child, and mothering characteristics.

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  • 1Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, Gaza, Palestine.



The aim was to examine how traumatic and stressful events, responses to violence, child characteristics, and mothering quality, as measured in middle childhood predict psychological distress and positive resources in adolescence.


The participants were 65 Palestinian adolescents (17+/-.85 years; 52% girls), who had been studied during the First Intifada (T1), during the Palestinian Authority rule (T2) and before the Second Al Aqsa Intifada (T3) in Gaza. Psychological distress was indicated by PTSD, and depressive symptoms and positive resources by resilient attitudes and satisfaction with quality of life, all measured at T3. The predictors that were measured at T1 were exposure to military violence, active coping with violence and children's intelligence, cognitive capacity, and neuroticism. Mothering quality and stressful life-events were measured at T2, the former reported by both the mother and the child, and the latter by the mother.


Adolescents' PTSD symptoms were most likely if they had been exposed to high levels of traumatic and stressful experiences and had poor cognitive capacity and high neuroticism in middle childhood. Only high levels of childhood military violence and stressful life-events predicted high depressive symptoms and low satisfaction with quality of life in adolescence.


Military violence in childhood forms risks for both increased psychological distress and decreased positive resources. However, child characteristics such as cognitive capacity and personality are important determinants of psychological vulnerability in military trauma.

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