Moral Injury and Social Well-Being

Moral injury (MI) may occur in the context of committing transgressions (i.e., self-directed MI reactions), witnessing transgressions, or being the victims of others’ transgressions (i.e., other-directed MI reactions) that violate an individual's moral principles. Veterans with MI may experience impaired social well-being (SWB). Studies on MI and veterans’ SWB have focused almost exclusively on social support and used cross-sectional data. The present study used growth curve analyses to examine the associations between self- and other-directed MI reactions and veterans’ levels of social support, social functioning, social activities, and social satisfaction over the first 18 to 21 months of their transition to civilian life (N = 9,566). The results demonstrated declines in all SWB outcomes, with self- and other-directed MI reactions having differential effects. Higher versus lower levels of other-directed MI reactions were related to lower baseline scores on all SWB outcomes, βs = −.06 to −.20, and steeper declines over time in social functioning, β = −.09, and social satisfaction, β = −.10. Higher versus lower levels of self-directed MI reactions were related to lower baseline levels of social functioning, β = −.07, but higher baseline levels of social activity, β =.04. Higher versus lower levels of self-directed MI reactions were related to a steeper decline in social activity over time, β = −.10. These findings present a more nuanced picture than that depicted by current MI theoretical frameworks and support further research to uncover moderators of the associations between self- and other-directed MI reactions and SWB outcomes.

"This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Chesnut, R.P., Richardson, C.B., Morgan, N.R., Bleser, J.A., Perkins, D.F., Vogt, D., Copeland, L.A., & Finley, E. (2020). Moral injury and social well-being: A growth curve analysis. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 33, 587-597, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited."



Work Title Moral Injury and Social Well-Being
Subtitle A Growth Curve Analysis
Open Access
  1. Ryan P. Chesnut
  2. Cameron B. Richardson
  3. Nicole R. Morgan
  4. Julia A. Bleser
  5. Daniel F. Perkins
  6. Dawne Vogt
  7. Laurel A. Copeland
  8. Erin Finley
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Journal of Traumatic Stress
Publication Date August 1, 2020
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
Deposited November 17, 2021




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Accepted_Version_for_Penn_State_ScholarSphere.pdf
  • Added Creator Ryan P. Chesnut
  • Added Creator Cameron B. Richardson
  • Added Creator Nicole R. Morgan
  • Added Creator Julia A. Bleser
  • Added Creator Daniel F. Perkins
  • Added Creator Dawne Vogt
  • Added Creator Laurel A. Copeland
  • Added Creator Erin Finley
  • Published
  • Updated
  • Updated