Political Imprisonment and Adult Functioning: A Life Event History Analysis of Palestinians

Clea Mcneely, Brian K. Barber, Carolyn Spellings, Robert Belli, Rita Giacaman, Cairo Arafat, Mahmoud Daher, Eyad El Sarraj, Mohammed Abu Mallouh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Political imprisonment is a traumatic event, often accompanied by torture and deprivation. This study explores the association of political imprisonment between 1987 and 2011 with political, economic, community, psychological, physical, and family functioning in a population-based sample of Palestinian men ages 32-43 years (N = 884) derived from a dataset collected in 2011. Twenty-six percent (n = 233) had been politically imprisoned. Men imprisoned between 1987 and 2005 reported functioning as well as never-imprisoned men in most domains, suggesting that men imprisoned as youth have moved forward with their lives in ways similar to their nonimprisoned counterparts. In an exception to this pattern, men imprisoned during the Oslo Accords period (1994-1999) reported higher levels of trauma-related stress (B = 0.24, p = .027) compared to never-imprisoned men. Men imprisoned since 2006 reported lower functioning in multiple domains: human insecurity (B = 0.33, p = .023), freedom of public expression (B = -0.48, p = .017), perceived government stability (B = -0.38, p = .009), feeling broken or destroyed (B = 0.59, p = .001), physical limitations (B = 0.55, p = .002), and community belonging (B = -0.33, p = .048). Findings pointed to the value of examining the effects of imprisonment on functioning in multiple domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-231
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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