Semper religionis: stressors, religious involvement, and post-traumatic stress among active duty military personnel




Viña, Sean Matthew

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Although a significant body of research has examined religion and mental health within the general U.S. populace, few studies have explored this issue among active duty military personnel. This oversight is notable due to the increased rate of post-traumatic stress among veterans post 9/11, and the social and economic implications of a huge population with psychological disorders. Although there is an official separation of church and state, evidence indicates religion plays in integral part in the lives of many service members. In what ways are stressors related to post-traumatic stress? How are multiple dimensions of religion/spirituality related to post-traumatic stress? What is the interface between stressors, religion/spirituality, and post-traumatic stress? This research analyzed data from the 2011 Survey of Health Related Behaviors of Active Duty Military Personnel, a worldwide internet survey including all American service branches. Data collection procedures yielded a representative sample of 39,877. This research analyzed PTS levels using stereotype logistic (SL) regression in a one-dimensional model to estimate the ordinal response variable, as well as SL in higher-dimension models in place of multinomial logistic regression. Overall, results suggest increased religiosity has a salutary effect on PTS. Results suggest military chaplains remain the preferred religious health coping mechanism when experiencing PTS related stress. Results also suggest sexual trauma is particularly destructive on mental health of religious military personnel as it may create a "Spiritual Struggle" or religious identity crisis that heightens psychological distress. Additional finding are discussed below.


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Mental Health, Military Health, Post-Traumatic Stress, Religion, Religious Health Coping, Social Psychology