War trauma impacts in Ukrainian combat and civilian populations : Moral injury and associated mental health symptoms

This is the first study to compare active-duty soldiers and student civilian samples during the first three months of the Ukrainian-Russian war in relation to moral injury and its association with PTSD, anxiety and depression.


A total of 350 participants, including 191 active-duty soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Force (UAF), who were on the frontline during the full-scale invasion of Russian troops in February 2022, and 159 students from different HEIs in Volyn oblast, were recruited into the study through their attendance at the Ukrainian Psychotrauma Center. Prior to the in-person group-intervention program of psychosocial support for military and civil populations at the Ukrainian Psychotrauma Center, moral injury, PTSD, depression, and anxiety were assessed. Results showed significantly higher moral injury, PTSD, depression, and anxiety scores in civilian students, with a two-way ANOVA indicating a significant impact of female gender in civilians only. A hierarchical regression indicated that moral injury is a predictor of PTSD symptoms in both active-duty and civilian student groups.


However, previous family trauma of genocide is associated with PTSD symptoms in active soldiers only. The findings of the current study could contribute insights for clinical practice for combatants and civilians during the current war.

Larysa Zasiekina, Tamara Duchyminska, Antonia Bifulco & Giacomo Bignardi | 2023
In: Military Psychology ; ISSN: 1532-7876
Online ahead of print doi: 10.1080/08995605.2023.2235256
Anxiety Disorders, Citizens, Depressive Disorders, Guilt, Mental health, Military Personnel, Moral Injury (eng), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Research, Shame, Students, Ukraine, War