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Original Research Articles

Social Inclusion and Mental Health of Children with Physical Disabilities in Gaza, Palestine

Authors:

Khaled Nasser ,

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Professional, United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Gaza Strip, PS
About Khaled

Khaled Nasser is a Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Professional, United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Gaza Strip, Palestine

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Malcolm MacLachlan,

School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin, IE; Centre for Rehabilitation Studies, Stellenbosch University, ZA; Olomouc University Social Health Institute, Palacký University Olomouc, CZ
About Malcolm

Professor Malcolm MacLachlan is a Professor of Global Health and Director Centre for Global Health, School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland; Extraordinary Professor, Centre for Rehabilitation Studies, Stellenbosch University, South Africa; and Visiting Professor, Olomouc University Social Health Institute, Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic.

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Joanne McVeigh

Centre for Global Health and School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin, IE
About Joanne

Joanne McVeigh is a Doctoral Researcher at the Centre for Global Health and School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

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Abstract

Purpose: Social inclusion of children with physical disabilities is essential for their mental health. The long-standing conflict and political instability in Palestine since 1948 has resulted in an unprecedented number of children with disabilities. This study aimed to assess social inclusion and mental health of children with physical disabilities in Palestine.

Method: A mixed methods research design was used. The 12-item General Health Questionnaire and a Social Inclusion Questionnaire were administered to 100 children with amputations, 12-18 years of age, in the Gaza Strip. Ten semi-structured interviews were also conducted with personnel working across civil society rehabilitation services in the area, particularly in services that focussed on the physical rehabilitation of children who had lost a limb.

Results: Quantitative findings indicated that 88% of children’s disabilities were caused by war-related incidents. While the sample of children showed on average relatively low levels of psychological distress, males reported feeling more socially included and having better mental health than did females. Furthermore, there was a strong positive correlation between mental health and social inclusion, and a moderate positive correlation between psychological distress and social inclusion. The qualitative data identified different factors that hinder social inclusion, mainly: political instability; under-resourced disability organisations; lack of coordinated efforts; and negative societal attitudes towards disability.

Conclusion: A new questionnaire for social inclusion was developed, which can now be used as a tool to assess social inclusion in similar contexts; as well as a culturally-adapted form of the General Health Questionnaire-12 to assess mental health. There is a clear need for service-providers to move beyond a medical model of care to one that embraces community-based rehabilitation and the realisation of rights, in order to promote the social inclusion and mental health of children with disabilities in Palestinian society.

How to Cite: Nasser, K., MacLachlan, M. and McVeigh, J., 2017. Social Inclusion and Mental Health of Children with Physical Disabilities in Gaza, Palestine. Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development, 27(4), pp.5–36. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5463/dcid.v27i4.560
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Published on 22 Feb 2017.

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