Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 1212–1228 | Cite as

Moral Injury and Definitional Clarity: Betrayal, Spirituality and the Role of Chaplains

  • Timothy J. HodgsonEmail author
  • Lindsay B. CareyEmail author
Original Paper


This article explores the developing definition of moral injury within the current key literature. Building on the previous literature regarding ‘Moral Injury, Spiritual Care and the role of Chaplains’ (Carey et al. in JORH 55(4):1218–1245, 2016b. doi: 10.1007/s10943-016-0231-x), this article notes the complexity that has developed due to definitional variations regarding moral injury—particularly with respect to the concepts of ‘betrayal’ and ‘spirituality’. Given the increasing recognition of moral injury and noting the relevance and importance of utilizing a bio-psycho-social-spiritual model, this article argues that betrayal and spirituality should be core components for understanding, defining and addressing moral injury. It also supports the role of chaplains being involved in the holistic care and rehabilitation of those affected by moral injury.


Moral injury Betrayal Spirituality Chaplains Rehabilitation 



Appreciation is acknowledged to Dr. Bruce Rumbold (Palliative Care Unit, La Trobe University, Melbourne), Associate Professor Jeffrey Cohen (Australian Catholic University), Chaplain (GPCAPT) Mark Willis (JHC, Canberra), Dr. Neil Pembroke and Dr. David Pittman (University of Queensland) for their support of this research.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The first author is a veteran military chaplain. The second author has served as chaplain within health, welfare, industrial and military contexts and regularly contributes to a wide range of pastoral care research internationally and is ranked by Scopus (May 2017) as 4th internationally with regard to chaplaincy research publications.

Ethical Endorsement

This paper is part of developing research into Moral Injury being conducted with the support of the University of Queensland Human Research Ethics Committee (Brisbane Australia), the Palliative Care Unit, La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia) and the Australian Defence Force Human Research Ethics Committee (Canberra, Australia) in compliance with the (Australian) National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2015), Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Religious Studies, School of Historical and Philosophical InquiryUniversity of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.Palliative Care Unit, Department of Public Health, School of Psychology and Public HealthLa Trobe UniversityBundooraAustralia

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