Mastery, Social Support, and Sense of Community as Protective Resources Against Psychological Distress Among Israelis Exposed to Prolonged Rocket Attacks

Navit Ben-Tzur, Lea Zanbar, Krzysztof Kaniasty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

We investigated the psychological toll of exposure to rocket attacks as experienced by residents of central and southern Israel during the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict. Participants completed an online survey assessing their life-threatening experiences, the availability of psychosocial resources, and symptoms of both PTSD (PCL-5) and nonspecific psychological distress (K6) 2–3 months posttrauma. Guided by the conservation of resources theory, we focused on the distress-protective functions of person- and community-oriented resources: mastery, perceived social support, and sense of community. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that elevated exposure to rocket attacks predicted higher levels of PTSD but not psychological distress. All 13 predictors (i.e., sociodemographic factors, trauma exposure, personal and community resources) and three interactions between rocket attack–related trauma exposure and each of the resources accounted for a significant amount of the variance in PTSD, R2 =.251, adjusted R2 =.235, and nonspecific psychological distress, R2 =.280, adjusted R2 =.264. Predictably, higher levels of mastery and perceived social support were associated with lower PCL-5 and K6 scores. Unexpectedly, respondents who reported a higher sense of community exhibited more PTSD symptoms. Supplementary analyses indicated that among individuals with lower levels of mastery, sense of community was related to higher PCL-5 scores. Psychosocial resources are important for coping with community-wide stressors, but their roles are complex. Maintaining a sense of community among individuals who experience shared trauma is undoubtedly critical, yet potential downsides of collective coping among those with lower levels of mastery should be recognized and further investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-511
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021

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