Positive and Negative Religious/Spiritual Coping and Combat Exposure as Predictors of Posttraumatic Stress and Perceived Growth in Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans

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Abstract

We examined religious/spiritual (RS) coping from the Survey of Experiences of Returning Veterans (SERV) Study, 630 participants who reported on their demographics, combat exposure, use of positive and negative RS coping, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and perceived posttraumatic growth (PPTG). PTSD symptoms and PPTG were inversely correlated. As hypothesized, negative RS coping was inversely associated with PPTG and positively with PTSD, while positive RS coping was related only to PPTG. Although we expected that RS coping would buffer relations between combat exposure and both PTSD and PPTG, we found only one moderator effect and it was opposite our hypothesized direction: those with high combat exposure and high positive RS coping had the highest PTSD symptomatology. These results suggest, among veterans with combat exposure, negative RS coping is associated with higher PTSD symptomatology, while positive RS coping is generally associated with higher PPTG as well as higher PTSD for those with high combat exposure.

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