Moral Injury, PTSD, and Complex PTSD Among Israeli Health and Social Care Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Moderating Role of Self-Criticism

Gadi Zerach, Yossi Levi-Belz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, health and social care workers (HSCWs) are facing morally challenging situations and life-threatening decisions. Following exposure to potentially morally injurious events (PMIEs) that undermine deeply held moral beliefs and expectations, HSCWs might experience moral injury (MI) and other deleterious psychiatric consequences. The present study examined associations between exposure to PMIEs, MI symptoms, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex PTSD (CPTSD), and self-criticism among HSCWs. Method: A sample of 296 Israeli HSCWs responded to online validated self-report questionnaires in a cross-sectional designed survey in February and March 2021. Results: Participants’ self-reported PTSD (8.9%) and CPTSD (4.8%) rates match the rates of Israel’s general population. A moderated-mediation model shows that high self-criticism intensified the relations between exposure to PMIEs and MI symptoms, and between MI symptoms and CPTSD symptoms. Importantly, the indirect effect of exposure to PMIEs on both PTSD and CPTSD symptoms via MI symptoms existed only among those with high levels of self-criticism. Conclusions: The study’s findings offer a novel overview of the associations between patterns of exposure to PMIEs, MI, PTSD, and CPTSD. Clinicians treating HSCWs coping with COVID-19–related moral injury should be aware of the importance of high self-criticism in the possible posttraumatic sequelae of exposure to PMIEs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1314-1323
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Volume14
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 31 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Covid-19
  • Cptsd
  • Moral injury
  • Ptsd
  • Self-criticism

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