Moral Injury and Social Well-Being: A Growth Curve Analysis

Ryan P. Chesnut, Cameron B. Richardson, Nicole R. Morgan, Julia A. Bleser, Daniel F. Perkins, Dawne Vogt, Laurel A. Copeland, Erin Finley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Moral injury (MI) may occur in the context of committing transgressions (i.e., self-directed MI reactions), witnessing transgressions, or being the victims of others’ transgressions (i.e., other-directed MI reactions) that violate an individual's moral principles. Veterans with MI may experience impaired social well-being (SWB). Studies on MI and veterans’ SWB have focused almost exclusively on social support and used cross-sectional data. The present study used growth curve analyses to examine the associations between self- and other-directed MI reactions and veterans’ levels of social support, social functioning, social activities, and social satisfaction over the first 18 to 21 months of their transition to civilian life (N = 9,566). The results demonstrated declines in all SWB outcomes, with self- and other-directed MI reactions having differential effects. Higher versus lower levels of other-directed MI reactions were related to lower baseline scores on all SWB outcomes, βs = −.06 to −.20, and steeper declines over time in social functioning, β = −.09, and social satisfaction, β = −.10. Higher versus lower levels of self-directed MI reactions were related to lower baseline levels of social functioning, β = −.07, but higher baseline levels of social activity, β =.04. Higher versus lower levels of self-directed MI reactions were related to a steeper decline in social activity over time, β = −.10. These findings present a more nuanced picture than that depicted by current MI theoretical frameworks and support further research to uncover moderators of the associations between self- and other-directed MI reactions and SWB outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-597
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of traumatic stress
Volume33
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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