The Relationship Between Religion/Spirituality, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Quality of Life in Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans

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The past decade has marked an increasing interest in the relationships between trauma, religiousness and spirituality (R/S), and quality of life (QOL). The intersection of these factors is particularly relevant to Veteran populations who are often deployed into highly stressful and traumatic environments where they may be physically, psychologically, morally, or spiritually injured. Exposure to these potentially traumatic situations and the subsequent development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a well-documented reality for Veterans of conflicts in Vietnam and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. Research has related the persistence of PTSD symptoms, in turn, to impairments across different aspects of QOL in Veterans across these eras. R/S significantly contribute to both posttraumatic adjustment and QOL in manifold ways. Specifically, forgiveness has emerged as a powerful factor in mediating the relationship between PTSD and QOL in Vietnam Veterans. However, this model has yet to be examined with the newest generation of Veterans. In the current study the investigator examined the relationship between PTSD, R/S functioning, and QOL in a sample of 201 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans enrolled in a PTSD residential treatment program, with a special reference to the mediating role of forgiveness. Results indicated, consistent with research examining Vietnam Veterans, a generally positive relationship between R/S functioning and QOL in this sample of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. Furthermore, self-forgiveness wholly mediated this positive relationship. Theoretical and clinical implications for integrating spiritually oriented forgiveness interventions into work with traumatized Veterans were discussed.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

First Advisor

Currier, Joseph

Document Type





Post-traumatic stress disorder, Post-traumatic growth, Spirituality, Quality of life, Veterans




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