Moral injury is an emerging construct related to negative consequences associated with war-zone stressors that transgress military veterans' deeply held values/beliefs. Given the newness of the construct, there is a need for instrumentation that might assess morally injurious experiences (MIEs) in this population. Drawing on a community sample of 131 Iraq and/or Afghanistan Veterans and clinical sample of 82 returning Veterans, we conducted an initial psychometric evaluation of the newly developed Moral Injury Questionnaire-Military version (MIQ-M)-a 20-item self-report measure for assessing MIEs. Possibly due to low rates of reporting, an item assessing sexual trauma did not yield favourable psychometric properties and was excluded from analyses. Veterans in the clinical sample endorsed significantly higher scores across MIQ-M items. Factor analytic results for the final 19 items supported a unidimensional structure, and convergent validity analyses revealed that higher scores (indicative of more MIEs) were correlated with greater general combat exposure, impairments in work/social functioning, posttraumatic stress and depression in the community sample. In addition, when controlling for demographics, deployment-related factors and exposure to life threat stressors associated with combat, tests of incremental validity indicated that MIQ-M scores were also uniquely linked with suicide risk and other mental health outcomes. These findings provide preliminary evidence for the validity of the MIQ-M and support the applicability of this measure for further research and clinical work with Veterans.
Key practitioner message: Military service can confront service members with experiences that undermine their core sense of humanity and violate global values and beliefs. These types of experiences increase the risk for posttraumatic maladjustment in this population, even when accounting for rates of exposure to life threat traumas. Moral injury is an emerging construct to more fully capture the many possible psychological, ethical, and spiritual/existential challenges among persons who served in modern wars and other trauma-exposed professional groups. There is currently a need for psychometrically sound instrumentation for assessing morally injurious experiences (MIEs). The Moral Injury Questionnaire - Military Version (MIQ-M) was developed to provide a tool for assessing possible MIEs among military populations. This study provides preliminary evidence of the validity - including factorial, concurrent, and incremental - and clinical utility of the MIQ-M for further applications in clinical and research contexts.
Keywords: military Veterans; moral injury; trauma.
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.