Continuous Trauma and PTSD in Qatar and in the Gaza Strip: Risk Factors and Causes, Consequences and Resiliency Factors

Principle Investigators:
Professor Muthanna Samara

Postdoctoral Research Fellows:
Dr. Basel El-Khodary

Funding Organisation:
Qatar National Research Fund

Start-Finish date:
August 2015 - March 2019

What is PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD refers to experiencing marked cognitive, affective, and behavioural responses to trauma-evoked stimuli, resulting in four clusters of symptoms: intrusive symptoms as flashbacks and nightmares, avoidance symptoms and numbed emotions, and high arousals of feelings of threat (DSM-IV-TR) (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).


What are the short-term and long-term implications of PTSD?

The study will give recommendations for health practitioners and official governmental bodies (e.g., Supreme Council of Health) on how to review the diagnostic tools that are used to diagnose children and adolescents with mental health problems taking into account traumatic events and experiences. Furthermore, recommendations will be given to review the health policies in relation to traumatic events and PTSD diagnosis and identify the steps that should be taken in these cases (e.g., in identifying cases and follow-up procedures). There is a need to review this in Qatar according to the results of this study.

The results of this study will provide the caregivers and professionals by solid knowledge of risk factors and ways to prevent or reduce long-term distress. The study results will also allow for the review of the health and practice policies with regards to traumatic events and PTSD diagnosis including way of assessment, diagnosis, follow-up procedures etc. These will be done through recommendations for the Supreme council of Health, hospitals, educational departments and practitioners.

​​​​​​​Our developmental study follows children during the crucial developmental stages of middle childhood (11-12 years), early adolescence (13-14 years) and adolescence (15-16 years). Their development is followed up in order to learn how their mental health, psychosocial resources and multilevel ecological factors change in the crucial age change. The study will give us this opportunity to compare these different aspects in two contrasting environments to see the effect of a specific treatment (TF-CBT) in comparison to the environmental support in vulnerable population (the Gaza Strip) and normal protected environment (Qatari population).

What is the aim of the present research?

This study aims to explore different precursors and consequences of PTSD amongst children in Qatar and the Gaza Strip and identify high risk groups for PTSD to inform health policy makers of possible interventions. The study will also look at the influence of the war in the Gaza Strip on the children in Qatar and investigate genetic relationship to PTSD symptoms.

What does the study hope to achieve?

  • To describe the incidence and nature of traumatic events and their prevalence amongst children and adolescents in Qatar and the Gaza Strip.

  • To examine the levels of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and dissociative symptoms amongst children and adolescents in Qatar and the Gaza Strip.

  • To investigate over time the risk and protective factors that potentially increase or decrease the likelihood of PTSD. And especially model the pathways through which society, school, family and child related characteristics influence PTSD in the Middle Eastern Islamic culture in Qatar and Palestine.

  • To study the intervention effectiveness among highly traumatized children. The study will apply TF-CBT-protocol (Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy) for children who suffer over the clinical cut-point for PTSD. It is conducted as a counseling intervention to alleviate the severity of PTSD symptoms and analyze the underlying mechanism for positive change.

  • To investigate whether the carriers of the deletion variant of the gene encoding the alpha2b- adrenergic receptor will be more likely to have high levels of intrusive or other PTSD symptoms.

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR 4th ed. Washington DC; 2000.