Confidence in Iron Dome aids PTSD, shows research

During the conflict between Israel and Gaza, more than 4,500 missiles were fired by Palestinian terrorists on 70 percent of the Israeli population.

May 11, 2016 04:01
2 minute read.
Trial of the Iron Dome system in the US.

Trial of the Iron Dome system in the US.. (photo credit: RAFAEL ADVANCED DEFENSE SYSTEMS)

The faith of Israelis in the ability of the Iron Dome air defense system to protect them, along with a strong sense of resilience, reduced the amount of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the population during Operation Protective Edge two years ago, according to new research at Bar-Ilan University.

The research team, headed by Dr. Yaakov Hoffman of the university’s Interdisciplinary Department of Social Sciences, was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

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Additional authors of the study, which was conducted in December 2014 and January 2015, included Sara Cohen-Fridel of BIU’s Churgin School of Education; Prof. Ehud Bodner, of the interdisciplinary department and the Department of Music; and Dr. Ephraim Grossman and Dr. Amit Shrira of the interdisciplinary department.

During the conflict between Israel and Gaza, more than 4,500 missiles were fired by Palestinian terrorists on 70 percent of the Israeli population.

Exposure to missile attacks was assessed through yes/no questions regarding the threat of death or physical injury either to oneself or to others (such as “were you injured by missile attacks?” or “was someone close to you injured by missile attacks?”).

Confidence in the Iron Dome defense system was measured in two ways. First, the participants were asked about their subjective belief indexed by three items rated by a five-point Likert scale, ranking from one (“not true at all”) to five (“very true”): (“I am confident in the Iron Dome system,” “The Iron Dome system reduces casualties,” and “The Iron Dome system constitutes good protection from missiles”).

Second, respondents were asked for subjective estimates of the Iron Dome’s success probability (from zero to 100).

The results showed that when resilience was coupled with a high subjective belief in Iron Dome, the detrimental impact of trauma exposure was mitigated. In other words, even at high exposure levels, trauma symptoms did not increase for resilient subjects who also had confidence in Iron Dome.

“We know that psychological resilience typically reduces the detrimental effects of trauma exposure on PTSD symptoms, but what we found here is that resilience can be strengthened when coupled with a second factor, namely one’s belief in the external protection provided by Iron Dome,” said Hoffman.

“Another interesting point is that the Iron Dome system not only saved lives, but was also associated with reduced PTSD symptoms, possibly by enhancing one’s sense of safety.”

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