Sources of moral injury among war veterans: A qualitative evaluation

July, 2018

This paper explored the types of events that veterans consider morally injurious.


Service members deployed to war are at risk for moral injury, but the potential sources of moral injury are poorly understood. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the types of events that veterans perceive as morally injurious and to use those events to develop a categorization scheme for combat-related morally injurious events. Analysis based on Grounded Theory yielded two categories (and eight subcategories) of events that putatively cause moral injury. The two categories were defined by the focal attribution of responsibility for the event: Personal Responsibility (veteran's reported distress is related to his own behavior) versus Responsibility of Others (veteran's distress is related to actions taken by others). Examples of each type of morally injurious event are provided. Implications for the further development of the moral injury construct and treatment are discussed.

Full Reference

Schorr, Y., Stein, N. R., Maguen, S., Barnes, J. B., Bosch, J.and Litz, B. T., 2018. Sources of moral injury among war veterans: A qualitative evaluation. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 74(12), pp. 2203-2218.

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