Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London and Combat Stress are seeking participants to take part in a new survey to better understand the impact of moral injury*. The survey is open to all professionals across the UK who may have faced challenging ethical or moral dilemmas during their line of work.

The research aims to produce a reliable measure of moral injury to enable further study of this topic in various occupational groups, including but not limited to the military. It will build on a previous study, Experiences of moral injury in UK military veterans, which was carried out in 2020 by King’s IoPPN and Combat Stress and funded by Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT).

At present there is no reliable way to measure moral injury and cases can therefore be missed. This research aims to gather data to refine and develop the Moral Injury Scale (MORIS), developed as part of the previous study, to better understand the prevalence of the condition in the UK. The results of the study should also help clinicians to more effectively identify it in those seeking treatment.

Although the previous research explored the effects of moral injury in a military context, researchers identified risk factors which may be applicable to a wide range of front-line workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, including healthcare providers, emergency first responders, social workers and prison staff. However, moral injury is not just a Covid-related concept and the researchers are hoping to recruit anyone who has faced situations which challenged their moral code. Participation in the survey will be anonymous and it will take roughly 15 minutes to complete. As a thank you for taking part, a small fee will be paid to all participants. Anyone interested in taking part in the research can find out more here.

Mike Ellicock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “This survey is part of an ongoing body of work with this fantastic research team, and I believe it will have a real impact on clinical treatment of veterans and others suffering from moral injury in years to come. Validating this scale is an important step in ensuring the research can make a difference to the support individuals receive in a clinical setting.

“When we shared the findings of the first UK study to explore moral injury, lots of people responded to let us know that their own experiences chimed with the researchers’ findings. I would encourage anyone who is interested, or who thinks they may have faced a situation which challenged their morals, to take part and help us to better understand this relatively new concept.”

Dr Victoria Williamson, Research Fellow, King’s IoPPN said: “A validated measure of moral injury will allow for future studies to better understand the nature and scale of moral injury in UK military (and non-military) samples. The MORIS, once validated, will also allow clinicians to be more confident in identifying patients with moral injury related distress and hopefully improve patient outcomes.

Professor Dominic Murphy, Head of Research, Combat Stress, said: “We would encourage people who may have experienced some of the issues described above to come forward and take part in this study. By taking part, you will be helping us to understand the impact of moral injury, which in turn, will help to develop better treatments”

The same team, led by Dr Victoria Williamson, Professor Neil Greenberg and Professor Dominic Murphy, are currently carrying out a feasibility study of a psychological treatment for morally injured military veterans, which they expect to conclude in 2023.

*Moral injury is defined as ‘psychological distress which results from actions, or lack of actions, which violate an individual’s moral or ethical code’. It is not unique to one profession, but can occur in the Armed Forces when an individual is adhering to the rules of engagement, or is following orders which result in challenging situations, such as witnessing human suffering or having a role in the deaths of civilians. For more information on what moral injury is, watch a short animation here or below.


Notes to Editors

About Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT)

Forces in Mind Trust was founded in November 2011 by a £35 million endowment from the Big Lottery Fund (now The National Lottery Community Fund). As a member of Cobseo – the Confederation of Service Charities and a permanent member of its Executive Committee, the Trust works within the Armed Forces charities sector, and much more widely, to support the UK’s Armed Forces Community.

The vision of Forces in Mind Trust is for all ex-Service personnel and their families to lead fulfilled civilian lives and the mission is to enable ex-Service personnel and their families to make a successful and sustainable transition into civilian life. The Trust’s strategy is to provide an evidence base that identifies barriers to a successful and sustainable transition, identifies what works to address these barriers and then use this evidence base to influence policy making and service delivery across the UK.

Forces in Mind Trust’s grants and commissions are designed to generate sustained change that improves the lives of ex-Service personnel and their families. The Trust awards grants to support its Change Model based on six outcomes: Housing; Employment; Health; Finance; Criminal Justice System and Relationships.



What we fund:

Twitter: @FiMTrust

About King’s College London and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience

King’s College London is one of the top 35 UK universities in the world and one of the top 10 in Europe (QS World University Rankings, 2020/21) and among the oldest in England. King’s has more

than 31,000 students (including more than 12,800 postgraduates) from some 150 countries worldwide, and 8,500 staff. King’s has an outstanding reputation for world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s is the premier centre for mental health and related neurosciences research in Europe. It produces more highly cited outputs (top 1% citations) on mental health than any other centre (SciVal 2019) and on this metric we have risen from 16th (2014) to 4th (2019) in the world for highly cited neuroscience outputs. World-leading research from the IoPPN has made, and continues to make, an impact on how we understand, prevent and treat mental illness and other conditions that affect the brain. @KingsIoPPN