177906 Religious practices, prayer and recovery from trauma among Iraq/Afghanistan war veterans and a community sample

Monday, October 27, 2008

Raymond H.A. Olson, MA, MPH , VA Medical Cener (116A), Minnesota Veterans Research Institute, Minneapolis, MN
J. Irene Harris, PhD , Mental and Behavioral Health, V.A. Medical Cener, Minneapolis, MN
Henry Ogden, PsyD , Mental and Behavioral Health, V.A. Medical Center (116A), Minneapolis, MN
Ann Marie Winskowski, MA , VA Medical Cener (116B), Minnesota Veterans Research Institute, Minneapolis, MN
A sample of 111 veterans from the Iraq /Afghanistan wars, who considered themselves Christians, and a sample of 327 community church members were administered questionnaires regarding exposure to psychological trauma, recovery from trauma, and religious coping strategies. The measures included the Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire, the Trauma Symptoms Inventory, and the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory. Qualitative measures included questions about how religious beliefs were helpful, or made it more difficult to deal with trauma. A principal components factor analysis and multiple linear regression analysis of the community sample indentified 2 dimensions of religiosity. ”Seeking spiritual support” (39% of the variance), and “religious strain” (21% of the variance). They, respectively, predicted posttraumatic growth and higher trauma symptoms (Harris et al. 2008). Initial findings of a longitudinal study of the community group, and the veterans sample show a similar pattern. 53% of the veterans identified “combat” as their most significant trauma, while the community group identified “sudden death of a loved one” (29%) as theirs. A significantly greater number of the community sample (76%), compared to veteran (39%) indicated that that religion was helpful in dealing with trauma, while a significantly greater number of the community sample (32%) than the veteran (17%) said there were aspects of religion that made it more difficult. Prayer was mentioned more often by the community group as being helpful. About 2/3 of veterans described alienation from faith as making it more difficult to deal with the crisis. Intervention groups for veterans which address religious coping strategies, including prayer, are now being tested.

Learning Objectives:
1.Identify important dimensions of religiosity which affect recovery from psychological trauma. 2.Describe some differences between recent war veterans and a community group in thier use of religious coping strategies. 3.Identify an intervention strategy for returning war veterans which employs religious coping strategies.

Keywords: Mental Health, Religion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have participated in the planning and implementation of this research as well as the data entry and analysis, and reporting results.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.