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War Trauma, Anxiety, and Resilience among University Students in the Gaza Strip

The aims of this study were to identify the types of the traumatic experiences, to find the type of resilience factors, anxiety trait and state occurrence, and to determine the relationship between exposure to the traumatic experiences, resilience and trait and state among university students. It is a descriptive analytical study; the sample consisted of randomly selected 399 university students enrolled in the main four universities in Gaza Strip (Al-Aqsa, Al-Azhar, Al-Quds Open and Islamic University) at the second semester of the academic year 2012-2013. We used five questionnaires to collect the data; a predesigned Sociodemographic sheet, Gaza Traumatic Events Checklist, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and Connor–Davidson Resilience Scale.

This study showed that the most commonly reported traumatic events were watching mutilated bodies on TV (92.7%), witnessing the shelling and destruction of another's home (47.37%), witnessing firing by tanks and heavy artillery at neighbors’ homes (47.12%), and being forced to move from home to a safer place during the war (42.86%). Mean total traumatic events was 4.72. Anxiety state mean was 46.62 and anxiety trait mean was 36.22. The most common resilience concepts (most of the time/all the time) were: God can help (91.7%), things happen for a reason (90.3%), and I am proud of my achievements (85.2%). Male students had significantly more total resilience, more personal competence and more trust in one’s instincts than female students. The results showed that there was a significant correlation between total traumatic events and anxiety state and trait. The results showed that there was no significant correlation between total traumatic events and total resilience, but there was a positive significant correlation between total traumatic events and trust in one's instincts, tolerance of negative affect and strengthening effects. On the other hand, there was a significant correlation between total traumatic events and spiritual domain. There was a significant correlation between anxiety state and total resilience and its subscales except in spiritual dimension.

Our conclusion was exposure to previous traumatic events due to Gaza war had long-term negative effects on Palestinian university students which increased their mental health problems. We recommend that students affair should show brief students the nature of the course, the institutional ethos, the subjects that they will be taught and aspects relating to assignments, examinations, evaluation and other academic requirements, and should also provide therapeutic interventions for university students who suffer from anxiety.


Abdel Aziz Mousa Thabet, Said Mohammed Abu Sultan

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