Development of an online supportive treatment module for moral injury in military veterans and police officers

Frontiers in Psychiatry

F. Jackie June ter Heide, Mariëlle L. de Goede, Sanne van Dam & Stijn Ekkers

https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.890858

Abstract

Background: Military members and police officers often operate in high stakes situations and under high levels of physical and psychological stress. Consequently, they may be confronted with morally injurious experiences and develop moral injury. Most treatments for moral injury are cognitive-behavioral, face-to-face treatments, which may be supported by online interventions. Online interventions have shown promise in the treatment of trauma-related psychopathology, but few such interventions for moral injury yet exist.

Objective: To develop and conduct a preliminary evaluation of an online treatment module for moral injury in treatment-seeking military veterans and police officers, to be used in conjunction with regular face-to-face treatment.

Method: An online module was developed based on the moral injury literature, using elements from seven existing treatments. A preliminary evaluation was conducted using both quantitative and qualitative methods, and focusing on perceived feasibility, acceptability and engagement of the module, as well as potential benefits and harms. The concept module was evaluated by 15 assessors, including patient representatives, multidisciplinary caregivers and experts.

Results: The module was rated favorably, with mean evaluation scores ranging from 7.9 to 8.8 on a 10-point scale. Several suggestions for improvement were made, especially concerning privacy issues, safety instructions, patient-therapist collaborations, and role plays, and the module was adapted accordingly.

Conclusion: Using input from literature, patient representatives and experts, we developed an online treatment module for moral injury in military veterans and police officers, to be used in conjunction with face-to-face therapy. Acceptability and feasibility will be further examined in a future pilot study.

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