The Moderating Effect of Religious Involvement on the Relationship Between PTSD Symptoms and Physical Pain in U.S. Veterans and Active Duty Military

Christopher R. Lea, Rev John P. Oliver, Zachary Smothers, Nathan A. Boucher, Nagy A. Youssef, Donna Ames, Fred Volk, Ellen J. Teng, Harold G. Koenig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity and pain is well known in veterans and active duty military (V/ADM). This study examines the buffering effect of religiosity on that relationship. A multisite study was conducted involving 585 V/ADM from across the United States. Multidimensional measures of religiosity, PTSD symptoms, depression/anxiety were administered, along with physical pain on a 0 to 10 visual analog scale. Bivariate and multivariate relationships were examined, along with the moderating effects of religiosity. PTSD symptoms were significantly related to pain level (r = 0.44), a relationship that was only slightly weaker among highly religious (r = 0.34) vs. nonhighly religious (r = 0.48). In multivariate analyses, the interaction between religiosity and PTSD severity on pain was not significant, although stratified analyses indicated a somewhat weaker relationship between PTSD severity and pain in the highly religious (B = 0.03, SE =0.01, t = 2.28, p = 0.02) compared to those who were not (B = 0.06, SE =0.01, t = 6.55, p < 0.0001). Likewise, effects of pain on PTSD symptoms appeared weaker in the highly religious (B = 0.67, SE =0.37, t = 1.80, p = 0.07) compared to others (B = 1.32, SE =0.25, t = 5.34, p < 0.0001). Conclusion: This study provides only minimal evidence that high religious involvement may buffer the effects of PTSD symptoms on pain and vice-versa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-335
Number of pages9
JournalMilitary Behavioral Health
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 3 2019

Keywords

  • Physical pain
  • active duty military
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • religion
  • spirituality
  • veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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