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Results appearing in the Journal of General Internal Medicine show that COVID-19 healthcare workers experienced high rates of potential moral injury that are comparable to rates among combat veterans. Moral injuries are defined as actions that conflict with values and beliefs, causing psychological harm. The researchers relied on data from 618 post-9/11 combat veterans and a separate survey of 2,099 healthcare workers enrolled in the HERO Registry.

Veterans were asked about moral experiences in the context of their military service, while healthcare workers were asked about their experiences during COVID-19. Healthcare workers noted that witnessing the public’s disregard for preventing COVID-19 transmission, seeing people dying, experiencing staffing shortages, rationing personal protective equipment, and enforcing policies not allowing visitors to witness dying patients were among the experiences that conflicted with their moral values.

Full Citation

Nieuwsma JA, O'Brien EC, Xu H, Smigelsky MA; VISN 6 MIRECC Workgroup; HERO Research Program, Meador KG. Patterns of Potential Moral Injury in Post-9/11 Combat Veterans and COVID-19 Healthcare Workers. J Gen Intern Med. 2022 Apr 5. doi: 10.1007/s11606-022-07487-4. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35381899.


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