Risk and Protective Factors Mediating Psychological Symptoms and Ideological Commitment of Adolescents Facing Continuous Terrorism

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease (Impact Factor: 1.69). 05/2006; 194(4):279-86. DOI: 10.1097/01.nmd.0000207364.68064.dc
Source: PubMed


This study evaluated symptoms, risk, and protective factors of adolescents from six Israeli schools exposed to continuous terrorism. All children in the grades selected at each school (7, 9, and 11) were administered anonymous assessment materials measuring posttraumatic, grief, and dissociative symptoms, as well as traumatic exposure, personal resilience, and family factors. A high number of risk factors increased the likelihood of negative symptoms. Perceived personal resilience served as a protective factor against symptom development, perhaps enforced by ideology. Girls living on the West Bank had less severe posttrauma and were more willing to make personal sacrifices for their country. Proactive interventions aimed at enhancing a child's personal resilience and ability to cope with continuous stress may help protect against later symptomatology following traumatic events. Facing terrorism, political ideology may serve a double edge sword: protecting against symptom development as well as contributing to the toxic cycle of violence.

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Available from: Leo Wolmer, Nov 22, 2015
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    • "Researchers have found that ideology may provide people with meaning and a sense of purpose that may serve a protective function, increasing their level of personal resources, which in turn protects against severe symptom development (Laor et al. 2006; Oren and Possick 2010). Although ideology is an important component of a group's social capital, particularly in groups who experience continuous existential threat, there is a paucity of empirical data on the relationship between ideology and the effects of traumatic exposure on PTSD (Laor et al. 2006 ) and in particular politicoreligious ideology (Bonanno and Jost 2006; Khamis 2000 Khamis ,2012). Research evidence from the Middle East is accumulating that ideology is often, but not always, related to better psychological well-being in certain indices such as anxiety and depression but not PTSD in Gaza Strip and South Lebanon (Khamis 2012). "

    Full-text · Dataset · Feb 2016
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    • "t lower beliefs in the chance for peace and less openness to reconciliation , or attitudes of revenge , were associated with more severe post - traumatic symptoms ( Bayer , Klasen , and Adam 2007 ; Laor , Wolmer , and Cohen 2004 ; Lavi and Solomon 2005 ) . However , strong ideology , even pro - war ideology , was a protector from stress symptoms ( Laor et al . 2006 ) ."
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    ABSTRACT: The present study examined attitudes toward war and peace during a violent conflict and their relationships with anxiety reactions. We aimed to find out if attitudes toward the conflict in general or attitudes toward the specific operation are linked to anxiety reactions during a stressful situation and if a personal coping resource mediates the relationships between these attitudes and anxiety. Data were gathered on November 2012 from 78 Jewish adolescents living in southern Israel who were exposed to missile attacks during a military operation. Adolescents filled out self-report questionnaires which included socio-demographic characteristics; attitudes toward the military operation; ways to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict; and sense of coherence and state anxiety. Results showed that most of the adolescents believed that a military operation would diminish the missile attacks to some extent or totally. Overall, adolescents who believed that a military operation would resolve the situation for a limited time were more anxious, while those who believed that it would open the opportunity for negotiation with the enemy, socialization, education, and mutual interest were less anxious. Results are discussed against the background of the meanings of growing up in the shadow of intractable violent conflict.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Journal of Youth Studies
    • "Most prospective studies of children and trauma (including war) have used children as the only informants. Although it is commonly held that children and adolescents are better informants than their parents regarding internalizing disorders, this issue is far from settled (Laor et al., 2006). Jensen found (Jensen et al., 1999) that parents and children equally identify discrepant cases of anxiety disorders with the authors stating that it is risky to discard information from either informant without sacrificing a significant proportion of cases. "
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    ABSTRACT: Prospective studies of children exposed to war have not investigated disorders other than posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and have methodological limitations. From a stratified random sample of 386 children and adolescents who had been interviewed 3 weeks after war exposure (Phase 1) a random subsample (N = 143) was interviewed a year later (Phase 2). PTSD, major depressive disorder (MDD), separation anxiety disorder (SAD), overanxious disorder (OAD), and psychosocial stressors were assessed using structured interviews administered to both children and adolescents and their parents. The prevalence of disorders among the 143 at Phase 1 was MDD 25.9%, SAD 16.1%, OAD 28.0%, and PTSD 26.0%, with 44.1% having any disorder. At Phase 2 the prevalence was MDD, 5.6%; SAD, 4.2%; OAD, 0%; and PTSD, 1.4%, with 9.2% having any disorder. Occurrence of disorders at Phase 1 was associated with older age, prewar disorders, financial problems, fear of being beaten, and witnessing any war event (ORs ranged from 2.5 to 28.6). Persistence of disorders to Phase 2 was associated with prewar disorders (OR = 6.0) and witnessing any war event (OR = 14.3). There are implications for detection of at-risk cases following wars by screening for adolescents exposed to family violence, those with prewar disorders, and those who directly witnessed war events to target them for specific interventions.
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