Category: Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders and Disasters

PS13- #C70 - Exploring the Association Among Race, Religiosity, and Posttraumatic Growth in a Sample of Military Veterans

Saturday, Nov 18
2:45 PM – 3:45 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Trauma | African Americans/Black Americans | Resilience

Posttraumatic growth (PTG) has been associated with a range of positive outcomes following trauma exposure, including lower rates of depression and a more positive sense of well-being (e.g., Helgeson, Reynolds, & Tomich, 2006). Prior studies have found that African Americans report higher PTG than their Caucasian counterparts, and that religiosity mediates these associations (e.g., Bellizzi et al., 2010), through a proposed mechanism of increased social support through religious participation. Additionally, prior research shows that African Americans use religious coping more frequently than Caucasians (Taylor, Chatters, & Levin, 2004). While prior research has focused on civilian samples, additional research is needed to examine factors that facilitate PTG among combat veterans (e.g., Tedeschi & McNally, 2011). In this study, we examined whether similar associations exist among a sample of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As in prior research, we hypothesized that PTG would be higher among African Americans than non-African American veterans, and that religious service attendance would mediate the relationship between race and PTG.

Participants included 1188 veterans enrolled in the Veterans After-Discharge Longitudinal Registry (Project VALOR). Participants completed a set of self-report questionnaires, including the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1996) and reported on how frequently they attend religious meetings or services (FRM). Participants were 51% male, 18% African American, and the average age was 40.68 years (SD = 9.78).


African Americans had significantly greater FRM (t(1186) = -7.14, p < .0001)and PTG (t(1186) = 5.31, p < .0001). Additionally,FRM was significantly positively related to PTG (t(1185) = -6.05, p < .0001). We then tested for mediation using Hayes’ Process macro (v2.16) in SPSS. The overall model was significant (R2=.23, F(2, 1185) = 32.85, p < .0001). The relation between FRM and PTG remained significant even while controlling for race (β = 4.48; t(1185) = 5.05, p < .0001). Most importantly, the association between race and PTG was weaker in this analysis (β = 7.66; t(1185) = 4.05, p < .0001)compared with the direct relationship (β = 9.98). A Sobel test revealed that the difference between these relationships was significant (z = 2.33, p < .0001), indicating partialmediation. Thus, our mediational hypothesis was partially supported.


Our findings suggest that religious participation may facilitate PTG among this group of veterans, but continued study is needed to determine the specific  aspects of religiosity that may influence this relationship (e.g., social support, spiritual beliefs). Implications for treatment and interventions will be discussed.

Sarah E. Kleiman

Psychologist
Boston VA Healthcare System
Brighton, Massachusetts

Kelly S. Parker-Guilbert

Boston VA Healthcare System

Samantha J. Moshier

VA Boston Healthcare System

Raymond Rosen

New England Research Institute

Brian P. Marx

Principle Investigator
Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, VA Boston Healthcare System
Boston, Massachusetts

Terence M. Keane

Boston VA Healthcare System, National Center for PTSD