Objectives: Psychological distress is a problem strongly associated with socio-economic conditions. This study aims to assess rates of psychological distress and ‘poor’ self-rated health among Palestinian citizens of Israel, who constitute 21% of the population and nearly 50% live in poverty, and compare their psychological distress scores with those of the general Israeli population. Design: The Health and Environment Survey among Palestinian citizens of Israel (HESPI-2015), included a representative sample of this minority; 2018 individuals aged ≥18 were interviewed. The questionnaire included socio-demographic and health-related information, the General Health Questionnaire-12, (GHQ-12) and Self-rating of health (SRH). Results: Subjects with GHQ-12 global scores of ≥17 were considered to have high distress. Low education, female gender, obesity and the presence of chronic diseases were significantly associated with high psychological distress over and above the effect of the other variables. Poor SRH was strongly associated with having a chronic disease and additional risk factors were older age group, low education and high psychological distress. Comparing psychological distress scores of Arabs in Israel with those of the general population showed that 30% of the former were classified as asymptomatic, as compared to 75% in the general population while the proportion of symptomatic or highly symptomatic was 14% in the latter as compared with 45% in the former. Conclusions: It appears that the burden of poverty, chronic disease and low education in this population, which suffers from multiple stressors, is disproportionate and should be addressed by the authorities, together with concrete plans to improve the education of the younger generations. Clearly, the association between discriminating policies and deprivation with psychological distress is not unique to the case of the Palestinian minority in Israel and therefore this study will allow for the examination and generalization of the current findings to other discriminated and disadvantaged minorities.
- Psychological distress
- Self-rated health
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health