Examining the Dimensionality of the Deployment Risk and Resilience Inventory (DRRI) and Examining if Religion/Spirituality/Religious Attendance Buffers the Impact Combat Exposure has on Mental Health Symptomatology
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Human Development and Family Studies
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Through the lens of religious coping theory, the aims of this study were multifaceted. First, the dimensionality of the Deployment Risk and Resilience Inventory (DRRI; RQ1; King et al., 2006), the combat exposure measure used in the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS), was examined among a sample of 13,155 Soldiers. It is important to examine the dimensionality of measures to determine if any interrelationships among items exist, and practically this is important to better understand the nuance of complex constructs such as combat exposure. For example, less is known about how diverse combat experiences (e.g., conducting regular patrols, engaging the enemy, using deadly force) affect a Service members’ mental health. Therefore, it is important to investigate these different experiences as to better understand what specific aspects of combat are associated with adverse mental health outcomes. A Principal Components Analysis (PCA) was implemented to determine dimensionality of the DRRI. Next the direct effects of combat exposure on anxiety and depressive symptoms (H1) were examined; note that if multiple constructs emerged from the PCA of the DRRI, they were included in the remaining analyses. Then, a Latent Profile Analysis (LPA) was conducted to examine whether different groups of Soldiers emerged based on indicators of religiosity, spirituality, and religious attendance (RQ2). Some strengths of employing a LPA are the ability to identify various sub-groups of participants with similar religion/spirituality/religious attendance profiles based on their responses and that it uses a person-centered approach. The final analysis that was conducted examined if the groups that emerged from the LPA moderated the relationship between combat exposure and the mental health symptomatologies (RQ3). Findings suggest that the DRRI does have multiple components (RQ1). These components were named: Expected combat experiences and Responsible for non-enemy deaths. The names are indicative of how the items from the DRRI loaded according to the results from the LPA where an approximately 0.20 difference in the factor loading between the two components determined which items loaded on which component. Both Expected combat experiences and Responsible for non-enemy deaths were uniquely associated with higher levels of anxiety and depressive symptomatologies (H1). Results from the LPA suggest that five groups emerged (RQ2). These five groups were labeled according to their varying levels of religiosity, spirituality, and religious attendance. The labels are: Non-religious/spiritual & Non-attenders (n=2,601; 20%), Slightly religious/spiritual & Non-attenders (n=3,328; 26%), Moderately religious/spiritual & Frequent attenders (n=1,775; 14%), Moderately religious/spiritual & Infrequent attenders (n=4,183; 30%), and Very religious/spiritual & Frequent attenders (n=1,268; 10%). The final analysis, conducting a multigroup path analysis, revealed that none of these groups significantly moderated the relationships between the two combat exposure components and the mental health symptomatologies (RQ3). Important implications can be derived from these findings. First, researchers may consider implementing a Principal Components Analysis (PCA) with their scales/inventories before moving forward with their main analyses to determine whether there are multiple factors that underlie a given construct. Second, the diversity of how participants identified regarding religiosity, spirituality, and religious attendance speaks to the importance of continuing to examine these constructs, but also to the importance of specifically examining how Service members use them (i.e., to positively or negatively cope). From there practitioners will be able to better intervene and address coping behaviors appropriately. Future directions include implementing more comprehensive measures of religiosity, spirituality, and religious attendance to examine the more nuanced aspects of these constructs. Longitudinal research would also help indicate directionality regarding the relationship between the two combat exposure components that emerged from the DRRI and the mental health symptomatologies.