OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

The Role of Self-compassion in the Relationship between Moral Injury and Psychological Distress among Military Veterans


Mernyll Manalo


While there is considerable research linking trauma to psychological distress (PD), such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among military populations, some service members may develop other variants of psychological difficulties following exposure to traumatic life events. For example, moral injury (MI) is conceptualized to occur when a person perceives their response to a morally challenging situation as a transgression that may lead to an incongruence with morals producing negative affect (i.e., shame and guilt; Litz et al., 2009). The current study investigates whether self-compassion (SC), a potential resilience factor, plays a moderating role in the indirect relationship between MI and PD through SC. Among 178 military veterans, findings indicate potential MIs, guilt, shame, and SC significantly predicted PTSD symptoms, Multiple R = .795, adjusted R2 = .623, F(4,173) = 74.238, p < .05. Furthermore, a conditional process analysis of our data suggests that the indirect effect of MI on PTSD through current state guilt is significantly moderated at the 16th, 50th, and 84th percentile scores of SC; b = -.1389, SE = .0893, 95% CI [-.3498, -.0045]; b = -.2386, SE = .0615, 95% CI [-.3752, -.1341]; b = -.3228, SE = .0994, 95% CI [-.5406, -.1518]; respectively. Findings are expected to have important implications for treatment conceptualization for military populations.

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