The Role of Prayer Coping and Disclosure Attitudes in Posttraumatic Outcomes Among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
U.S. military veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are at risk for developing adverse mental health symptoms post-deployment, but may also report experiences of growth after serving in these conflicts. The aim of the present study was to examine the role of prayer coping and attitudes toward trauma disclosure in predicting posttraumatic outcomes among a sample of recently deployed Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veterans (N = 110). Posttraumatic outcomes assessed by self-report measures included posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and posttraumatic growth (PTG). Through examination of bivariate correlations between study variables, results indicated that an urge to talk about traumatic experiences with others was positively correlated with each of the different types of prayer assessed (prayer for assistance, prayer for acceptance, prayer for calm and focus, and deferring/avoiding prayer). Additionally, endorsement of "active" types of prayer coping was associated with greater PTG, whereas passive prayer was not correlated with PTSD, depression, or PTG. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that prayer for assistance and prayer for calm and focus predicted fewer PTSD and depressive symptoms, respectively, even after controlling for disclosure variables, social support, and combat exposure. In addition, use of avoidant prayer predicted greater depressive symptomology. These findings suggest that prayer coping may partially overlap with traditional disclosure, but also accounts for unique variance in predicting posttraumatic outcomes. Discussions of possible clinical implications and directions for future research are also included.
Currier, Joseph M.
Iraq War, Afghan War, Prayer, Psychic trauma, Veterans
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