Health risk behaviours of Palestinian youth

Findings from a representative survey

Published in: Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, Volume 24, issue 2 (February 2018), Pages 127-136. doi:10.26719/2018.24.2.127

Posted on RAND.org on June 19, 2018

by Peter Glick, Umaiyeh Kammash, Mohammed Shaheen, Ryan Andrew Brown, Prodyumna Goutam, Rita Karam, Sebastian Linnemayr, Salwa Massad

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Background

There is little systematic information about health risk behaviours among youth in Middle Eastern countries, leaving public health authorities unprepared to deal with emerging public health threats at a time of major social change.

Aim

The Palestinian Youth Health Risk study investigates patterns of risk behaviours among Palestinian youth, their perceptions of the risks and benefits of such behaviours, and the relationship of exposure to violence with mental health and engagement in risk behaviours.

Methods

We conducted a representative survey among 2500 individuals aged 15–24 years in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, permitting reliable comparison across sex and rural-urban divisions. A stratified 2-stage random sample was drawn from the 2007 population census, with strata formed by crossing the 12 governorates with urban, rural and refugee camp locations. Within strata, 208 survey clusters were sampled with probability proportional to size. Within each cluster, 14 households with youth of the appropriate age were sampled.

Results

Among youth aged 20–24 years, 22.4% of males and 11.6% of females reported trying alcohol; 10.5% of males and 4.3% of females reported trying drugs. Almost one quarter of unmarried youth aged 20–24 years reported any sexual experience. Tobacco use is high, even among younger youth (45.4% of males and 21.2% of females aged 15–19 smoke). Risk behaviours are higher among males, older youth and in urban areas and refugee camps.

Conclusion

While smoking is of particular concern, prevention outreach for all behaviours should be directed at subgroups and areas identified as highest risk.

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