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psychological body armor, spiritual well-being, resilience, first responders, CISM, COVID-19


Research suggests spiritual resilience may ameliorate the negative effects of exposure to traumatic events among disaster mental health first responders. Our study examined the relationship between spiritual wellness and associated resilience factors among four groups of first responders (law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services and 911 dispatchers) trained in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) during a global pandemic. Utilizing a mixed methods-survey with transcendental phenomenological design, data was collected from 107 participants with membership in the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) or the Michigan Crisis Response Association (MCRA). Participants completed the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale, Spiritual Well-Being Scale-Shortened Version, Scales of Psychological Well-Being, a COVID-19 Social Disruption Questionnaire, and a structured written interview question to identify themes related to practices that maintain spiritual wellness through an online platform. Frequency of engaging in spiritual practices and having positive relationships with others were significantly associated with spiritual well-being for law enforcement, while frequency of engaging in spiritual practices and purpose in life were associated with spiritual well-being for 911 dispatchers. Spiritual well-being was not significantly related with social disruption due to COVID-19 among all four groups. Frequency of engaging in spiritual practices and having positive relationships with others were significant predictors of spiritual well-being for law enforcement only. Transcendental phenomenological analysis identified six themes: prayer, attending religious services, participating in religious study groups, exercise, outdoor activities and spending time in nature. Prayer was the most common spiritual well-being routine. We discuss recommendations for developing spiritual resilience training programs for CISM-trained first responders.

Journal Title

Crisis, Stress, and Human Resilience: An International Journal





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First Department

Behavioral Sciences


Open access article retrieved July 7, 2022 from