Very briefly, the main results from the preceding analyses can be summarized in the following way:

Acute illness and injury

  • 25% report that they have had an illness or an injury during the last month before the interview took place.
  • 72% of those who report illnesses during the last month had been prevented from carrying out their regular duties for 3 days or more, which corresponds to 18% of the total adult population.
Prolonged illness and handicaps
  • 30% report that they have illnesses of a prolonged nature, or afflictions due to an injury or a handicap.
  • Pain in the musculo-skeletal system is the most frequent reason for prolonged illness. 16% of all women and 12% of all men suffer from such conditions.
  • Determinants of illness
    • Age is the strongest determinant of the prevalence of illness. Prevalence of illness increase along with age.
    • Women and men report the same rates of both acute and chronic illness, but there are some differences when it comes to specific groups of prolonged illnesses.
    • Frequency of acute and prolonged illness is higher when the wealth of the household is low, and when the educational level of the individual is low.
    • It seems that refugee status and camp residency has a limited influence on rates of self-reported illness.
    Utilization of health services
    • More than 96% of those who have been ill consulted a physician (89%) and/or other kinds of health personnel. Once people define themselves as ill, they tend to consult health personnel. This is true for all subgroups, indicating that availability of health services is good. The quality and appropriateness of the health services offered cannot be evaluated in this survey.
    • Utilization of maternal and child health care services shows the same pattern. The utilization increases along with the educational level of the mother, but is not dependent on the wealth of the household. Geographical accessibility seems to be the most important factor determining the use of these services.
    • Utilization of primary health care services is much lower than it is in the Jewish population in Israel, but well within the limits of what is found in Western Europe.
    Health insurance:
    • Health insurance coverage rates a low 30%.
    • Coverage does not seem to be determined by refugee status or camp residency. In camps the rate is 27%.
    • Important determinants of coverage rates are age, wealth, residency in Arab Jerusalem, and full time employment. In Arab Jerusalem the rate is 50%, in Gaza 26%, and in the West Bank 29%.
    Mental health
    • Only 20% of the population report no symptoms of distress. 50% report 1-3 symptoms, and 30% report a high degree of distress (4-7 symptoms).
    • Comparison with studies in other countries is difficult, but the proportion of people who report symptoms of psychological distress seems relatively high.
    • Somatic illness is a strong determinant of psychological distress. When corrected for illness, the degree of distress increases slightly with age.
    • Does the high degree of distress in the population indicate stress caused by traumatic events? More symptoms of distress are reported by individuals who have somebody in the household that has been arrested during the intifada, or who have a child that has been seriously injured during the last two months. This may indicate that trauma is a possible reason for the very high numbers of symptoms reported.

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    al@mashriq                       960715