Prevalence of Potentially Morally Injurious Events in Operationally Deployed Canadian Armed Forces Members

Journal of Traumatic Stress 34:764-772 (2021)
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Abstract

As moral injury is a still-emerging concept within the area of military mental health, prevalence estimates for moral injury and its precursor, potentially morally injurious events (PMIEs), remain unknown for many of the world’s militaries. The present study sought to estimate the prevalence of PMIEs in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), using data collected from CAF personnel deployed to Afghanistan, via logistic regressions controlling for relevant sociodemographic, military, and deployment characteristics. Analyses revealed that over 65% of CAF members reported exposure to at least one event that would be considered a PMIE. The most commonly PMIEs individuals reported included seeing ill or injured women and children they were unable to help (48.4%), being unable to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants (43.6%), and finding themselves in a threatening situation where they were unable to respond due to the rules of engagement under which they were required to operate (35.4%). These findings provide support for both the presence of exposure to PMIEs in CAF members and the need for formal longitudinal data collection regarding PMIE exposure and moral injury development.

Author Profiles

Ken Kirkwood
University of Western Ontario
Kevin Hansen
University of Western Ontario (PhD)

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