Role of Perceived Social Support in Depressive and Somatic Symptoms Experienced by Bedouin Arab and Jewish Israeli Undergraduates(Accepted) Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Elevated levels of depressive and somatic symptoms have been documented among college students. Over the past two decades, there has been an increase in the number of Bedouin Arab students studying at institutions of higher education in southern Israel. To date, research on coping and mental-health problems among students who are members of this ethnic minority has been limited. This study examined the role of three aspects of perceived social support — availability, satisfaction, and the ability to get emotional support — in predicting depressive and somatic symptoms among Jewish Israeli and Bedouin Arab college students. Eighty-nine Bedouin and 101 Jewish first-year students participated in this study, which involved two assessment waves 12 to 14 months apart. Participants completed questionnaires assessing depressive symptoms, somatic complaints, three aspects of perceived social support, and demographics. At Time 1, Bedouin students exhibited higher levels of depressive and somatic symptoms and lower levels of all three aspects of social support. Regression analyses showed that emotional support was a prospective predictor of somatization at Time 2. Moreover, when levels of emotional support were low, ethnic group predicted depression at Time 2; emotional support predicted depression only among Bedouin Arabs. The present study highlights the importance of the use of emotional support in predicting somatic complaints and depressive symptoms specifically among Bedouin Arab students. Clinical implications on intervention programs for ethnic-minority students will be discussed.

publication date

  • May 30, 2017