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Coping and mental health problems among Palestinian refugee families.

Aim: The aim of the study was to find the rate of mental health problems among refugee’s families, to explore type of coping strategies used to overcome the stress and trauma and to explore the relationship to mental health problems and ways of coping in face of stress and adversities.

Method: A sample of 116 Refugee participants living in three refugee camps in Gaza Strip (Beach, Nusirate and Khan Younis camps) was selected. The sample consisted of 78 males (67.2%) and 38 females (32.8%). Age ranged from 19-65 years with a mean age of 41.3 years. Participants completed measures of Brief Symptom Inventory and Family Crisis Oriented Personal Evaluation Scale.

Results: The study showed than mean Brief Symptom Inventory was 64.97, anxiety mean was 9.79, somatization mean was 7.34, depression mean was 8.45, hostility mean was 3.91, obsession mean was 8.37, sensitivity mean was 5.88, paranoid mean was 5.31, phobia mean was 5.76 and psychoticism mean was 4.16. The results showed that Palestinian families coped with stressful situations by: 75% said that is God wish, 39.7% said they will ask for advice from relatives and grandparents and 35.3% attending religious meetings. The results showed that mean total coping of family was 109.17, acquiring social support mean was 16.37, reframing mean was 30.64, seeking spiritual support mean was 16.37, positive appraisal mean was 13.83 and mobilizing family to acquire and accept help mean was 14.83.

The study showed that total FCOPE was positively correlated with phobia, acquiring social support was positively correlated with phobia , reframing was correlated negatively with obsession, positive appraisal was positively correlated with hostility, obsession, paranoid, phobic anxiety and psychoticism, mobilizing family to acquire and accept help was positively correlated with somatization, phobic anxiety and psychoticism.

Clinical implications: This study had shown that refugees in Gaza Strip had mental health problems and they used more religious coping strategies to overcome the war-related traumatic experiences and distress. Such findings highlight the importance of developing mental health services. Future research that includes the training of primary health care professionals, health workers, counselors in the effects of trauma and culturally adapted counseling skills that capitalize on people empowerment and building on strengths appears particularly relevant. We suggested, as integrating mental health services into primary health care, religious organizations and community outreach efforts may make care more accessible, help to destigmatize mental health problems and thus help individuals and families make use of available resources.

Author(s): Abdelaziz M Thabet, Sanaa S Thabet, Panos Vostanis