The Prevalence of Psychological Morbidity in West Bank Palestinian Children

Tanya L. Zakrison, Amira Shahen, Shaban Mortaja, Paul A. Hamel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the prevalence of psychological morbidity among Palestinian children living in the southern Bethlehem District of the West Bank during July 2000. Methods: We undertook a descriptive study using the Rutter A2 (parent) Scale to determine psychological morbidity. This questionnaire comprises 31 questions that were answered by a parent of the 206 subject children (ages 6 to 13 years). We selected subjects based on a multistage, randomized selection of 8 Palestinian villages and their households in the southern region of Bethlehem, West Bank. We used the Gaza Socioeconomic Adversities Questionnaire to determine differences in economic status among families. Results: For all families interviewed, the father was employed, none were receiving financial assistance, and all but 1 owned their own house. The results of the Rutter A2 Scale revealed a rate of psychological morbidity ("caseness") of 42.3% among Palestinian children. The rate for boys was 46.3% and for girls, 37.8%. Conclusions: The prevalence of psychological morbidity among Palestinian children in the West Bank was significantly higher (factor of 2; Ψ2 = 23.26, df 1, P < 0.001), relative to the level of psychological morbidity determined independently for children in Gaza during 2000. We predict that these rates will have increased substantially owing to the escalated violence that began in this region 2 months after we conducted our study. We further predict that children in Israeli settlements in the West Bank will also exhibit elevated levels of psychological morbidity, relative to their counterparts in Israel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-63
Number of pages4
JournalCanadian Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Occupied territories
  • Palestinian children
  • Psychological morbidity
  • Rutter A2 scale
  • West Bank

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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