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The differential and accumulative impacts of self and other sources of moral injury on well-being in mental healthcare staff

Elanor Lucy Webb (Centre for Developmental and Complex Trauma, St Andrew’s Healthcare, Northampton, UK) (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, The University of Buckingham, Buckingham, UK)
Deborah J. Morris (Centre for Developmental and Complex Trauma, St Andrew’s Healthcare, Northampton, UK) (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, The University of Buckingham, Buckingham, UK)
Benedetta Lupattelli Gencarelli (Centre for Developmental and Complex Trauma, St Andrew’s Healthcare, Northampton, UK)
Jemima Worsfold (Centre for Developmental and Complex Trauma, St Andrew’s Healthcare, Northampton, UK)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 26 April 2024

Issue publication date: 28 May 2024

42

Abstract

Purpose

Research has established the prevalence and relevance of moral injury in healthcare workers, though less attention has been paid to the different classes of potentially morally injurious events (PMIEs) experienced by this population and their impact. This exploratory study sought to examine the frequency of self- and other-generated PMIE classes and their associations with demographic characteristics and well-being outcomes among mental healthcare staff.

Design/methodology/approach

Secondary analysis of data drawn from two cross-sectional surveys of 267 frontline and leadership staff from mental healthcare settings in the UK was conducted. Responses on the Moral Injury Events Scale and the Short Professional Quality of Life Scale were extracted for analysis.

Findings

Betrayal by others was most frequently endorsed (61.8%), whilst self-transgressions were least frequently reported (25.5%). After controlling for the number of PMIE classes experienced, betrayal significantly predicted secondary traumatic stress (p = 0.01) and burnout (p = 0.04). Additionally, other transgressions significantly predicted secondary traumatic stress (p = 0.008). The predictive effects of self-transgressions on burnout, secondary traumatic stress and compassion satisfaction were all nonsignificant after controlling for the number of PMIE classes experienced.

Practical implications

Findings highlight differences in the frequency and impact of self and other PMIEs experienced by healthcare professionals. Reducing cumulative exposure to differential PMIE classes appears to be of critical importance to improving occupational well-being in this group.

Originality/value

To our knowledge, this study is the first to explore the associations between PMIE classes and occupational well-being in a mental healthcare population, inclusive of frontline and leadership staff.

Keywords

Citation

Webb, E.L., Morris, D.J., Lupattelli Gencarelli, B. and Worsfold, J. (2024), "The differential and accumulative impacts of self and other sources of moral injury on well-being in mental healthcare staff", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 139-155. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJWHM-10-2023-0155

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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