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Women's Health in Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt): Inclusion and Exclusion

In collaboration with the Birzeit University

May 2014 – October 2015

The long-running and ongoing conflict in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) has had a large impact on the quality of life and wellbeing of Palestinians (Giacaman et al, 2009). A study conducted following the 2008-2009 war on Gaza revealed poor health-related quality of life (QOL) among adults, with significant associations between low QOL and war-related factors e.g.: distress, insecurity and suffering), with women reporting worse QOL scores compared to men (Abu-Rmeileh, 2011). The health-related impacts of conflict have significant gender associations, although they remain under-researched. Based on the limited evidence available therefore, Palestinian women suffer higher than expected rates of chronic diseases compared to women in comparable parts of the Arab World.

However, it is not sufficient to simply consider gender differentials, we also need to consider whether there are significant differences in the health of sub-groups of women. It is therefore important to identify factors associated with ill health and disparities in ill-health within the country among women, in order to inform policies and interventions.

The research will address the implications of the variations in availability, accessibility, and quality of women’s health services, taking into account associated demographic, socio-economic and political factors. For that, four groups of women whose health needs are neglected (or at best poorly served) in the oPt were identified:

  • women who marry under age 18
  • never-married women
  • married women who are not pregnant
  • menopausal women

Aims of the project

  • To generate new knowledge and improved understanding of the factors affecting women’s health in oPt
  • To widely disseminate the research findings to a range of academic and non-academic audiences
  • To enhance the capacity development in mixed methods quantitative and qualitative) data collection and analyses in health research at Birzeit University
  • To actively engage with research users and policymakers in order to maximise the impact of the research
  • To strengthen the research collaboration between LSE and Birzeit University in the field of health research in the Middle East


Phase 1 (May 2014 – October 2014)

  1. Design and delivery of training of Institute of Community and Public Health researchers in survey data analysis
  2. Data analysis of Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics datasets
  3. Report writing identifying issues which need further qualitative research and preparation for the qualitative component of the project

Phase 2 (October 2014 – June 2015)

  1. Design and delivery of training of ICPH researchers in qualitative and mixed methods
  2. Qualitative research design, development of interview schedule, and sample selection
  3. Field work
  4. Coding and analysis of fieldwork data
  5. Report writing highlighting the main findings and identifying issues which might be included in future PCBS surveys

Phase 3 (July 2015 – October 2015)

  1. Mentorship to help research assistants in the production of papers for publication
  2. Dissemination of key research findings (workshops, conferences, one to one discussions with policymakers, lectures etc)
  3. Translation of reports and social media content to Arabic and distribution locally

Outcomes and Dissemination

  • Evidence-base for health policies and interventions addressing key health problems among these women’s groups within the broad public health framework of the oPt.
  • Dissemination strategy which will include workshops, policy briefs and peer reviewed articles.
  • Technical assistance which will help PCBS in developing their instruments further so that we can produce relevant and reliable results related to the health of women in the excluded categories.
  • Platform from which further funding applications will be developed around the issue of women’s health in the oPt (e.g.: ESRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust).


Project Directors


Dr Ernestina Coast is Associate Professor in Population Studies in the Department of Social Policy at LSE. Her key interests lie in qualitative data collection and mixed methods analysis, women’s health and reproductive health. Dr Coast has extensive experience of research capacity development.




Professor Rita Giacaman is Professor of Public Health at the Institute of Community and Public Health (ICPH). She focuses on understanding the impact of chronic war-like conditions on health, including subjective health, and the health of excluded groups such as women and youth.




Dr Tiziana Leone is Lecturer in demography in the Department of Social Policy. Her key interests lie in quantitative analysis of women’s health and health systems. Dr Leone has extensive experience in collaborations on training and capacity building with overseas organisations.




Professor David Lewis is Professor of Social Policy and Development at LSE. His key interests are in qualitative and mixed methods data and their relevance for development policy.


Research Assistants


Doaa Hammoudeh is is an LSE alumna and has been working at Birzeit University since 2012. Much of Doaa’s research has explored the lives of vulnerable and marginalized sub-populations (with a specific focus on women), primarily through the utilization of qualitative methods to extrapolate contextually-relevant themes as they relate to health and policy. 



Rula Ghandour is Research Assistant at ICPH with an MPH from the Institute. Rula has worked in various studies focusing on diabetes mellitus, reproductive health and elderly care.


Sawsan Imseeh has obtained her BSc in Pharmacy from Al-Quds University, and MSc in Community and Public Health. She is Research Assistant at ICPH working on research on diabetes mellitus, entailing quantitative and qualitative methods.


Lee Moya Bradley obtained her BA in Anthropology and International Development from the University of Sussex. She currently works at ICPH as a Research Assistant.


Katie Bates is a Fellow in Population Studies in the Department of Social Policy at LSE. Her key interests lie in quantitative analysis of maternal and child health and of health transitions in developing countries with a particular focus on malnutrition. Katie has a background in anthropology, demography and statistics.


Suzan Mitwalli is a Research Assistant at the Institute of Community and Public Health with a Masters in Public Health from the Institute. Suzan is also an assistant coordinator of the Master’s in Public Health program. She specializes in both quantitative and qualitative research as well as community based interventions.


Shiraz Nasr is a Research Assistant at the Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University. She obtained a Master’s degree in Spatial Analysis from Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Shiraz's work focuses on women's health including quantitative and qualitative research methods.



copyright Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, 2012, source: flickr.com