Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

Spirituality, forgiveness, and quality of life: Testing a meditational model with miltary veterans with PTSD

Combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a debilitating condition that has been linked with problems with forgiveness and impaired quality of life (QOL) in physical, psychological, social, and environmental domains. However, an amassing base of research studies also suggests that spirituality can be a vital resource for veterans exposed to severe traumas. Drawing on multidimensional assessments of spirituality and QOL, this study therefore tested direct/indirect associations between spirituality, forgiveness, and QOL among 678 military veterans with PTSD. When controlling for demographic risk factors, combat exposure, and PTSD symptom severity, structural equation modeling results revealed (a) an overall positive effect for spirituality on QOL and (b) that forgiveness fully mediated this link. These findings align with contemporary models of military trauma and suggest that forgiveness could be a critical pathway for promoting QOL as veterans attempt to recover from their posttraumatic symptomatology in treatment settings. Implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed in the article.