Depression and somatic symptoms among two ethnic groups in israel: Testing three theoretical models

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Introduction: This study examined three theoretical models of the relationship between depressive symptoms and somatic complaints among Bedouin Arab and Jewish college/university students in Israel. The functional model suggests that somatic complaints may precede depressive symptoms; the affect-dysregulation model suggests that depressive symptoms may precede somatic complaints; and the sociocultural model suggests that depressive symptoms are strongly linked to somatic complaints mainly in Western cultural contexts. Method: One hundred and ninety individuals participated in the study, including 89 Bedouin Arab students and 101 Jewish students. Two assessment waves, one year apart, were employed. Participants completed measures regarding depression, somatic complaints and demographics. Results: Bedouin Arabs reported higher levels of both depression (Time 1 and Time 2) and somatization (only Time 1) as compared to Jewish students. A multiple-group, cross-lagged SEM analysis provided support for the functional model among the Bedouin Arab and Jewish student: Somatic complaints prospectively predicted depression in both groups. However, support for the affect-dysregulation model was found only among the Bedouin Arab students, among whom depression prospectively predicted somatic complaints. Conclusions: This study highlights cultural/ethnic similarities concerning the functional model and the cross-sectional associations between depression and somatization. However, these findings also underscore ethnic differences concerning the affect-dysregulation model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-40
Number of pages9
JournalIsrael Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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