Term of Award

Fall 2021

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Dorthie Cross

Committee Member 1

Brandon Weiss

Committee Member 2

Ryan Couillou


Moral injury is a transdiagnostic process that spans a collection of symptoms similar to PTSD (Litz et al., 2009). Many veterans develop PTSD symptoms following exposure to potentially morally injurious events (pMIE) occurring in the context of war (e.g., killing an enemy combatant or accidentally killing a civilian; (Currier, Holland, & Malott, 2014; Litz et al., 2009; Purcell, Koenig, Bosch & Maguen, 2016). The potential mediating and moderating variables between moral injury and PTSD may also contribute to pMIE-related PTSD symptoms being overlooked and left untreated (Litz et al., 2009). Furthermore, while extensive research has been conducted on coping and coping processes, the role of meaning making as it pertains to the relationship of moral injury and PTSD has yet to be determined. Specifically, some theories of coping describe a process of meaning-making that impacts both global beliefs (e.g., beliefs about the world) and more specific negative appraisals of a traumatic event (e.g., this event impacted my ability to have meaningful relationships). Approximately 256 veterans or active military service members were recruited using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) to participate in an online survey. A cross-sectional and correlational design was implemented to examine the relationships among pMIE, moral injury, PTSD, global meaning, and negative situational appraisal. Results indicated that moral injury fully mediated the relationship between pMIE and PTSD symptoms. Further, results indicated that global meaning partially mediated the relationship between pMIE and moral injury while negative situational appraisals were not a significant moderator of that mediation.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material