Literature describing the phenomenology of the stress of combat suggests that war-zone experiences may lead to adverse psychological outcomes such as post-traumatic stress disorder not only because they expose persons to life threat and loss but also because they may contradict deeply held moral and ethical beliefs and expectations. We sought to develop and validate a measure of potentially morally injurious events as a necessary step toward studying moral injury as a possible adverse consequence of combat. We administered an 11-item, self-report Moral Injury Events Scale to active duty Marines 1 week and 3 months following war-zone deployment. Two items were eliminated because of low item-total correlations. The remaining 9 items were subjected to an exploratory factor analysis, which revealed two latent factors that we labeled perceived transgressions and perceived betrayals; these were confirmed via confirmatory factor analysis on an independent sample. The overall Moral Injury Events Scale and its two subscales had favorable internal validity, and comparisons between the 1-week and 3-month data suggested good temporal stability. Initial discriminant and concurrent validity were also established. Future research directions were discussed.
Reprint & Copyright © 2013 Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S.