Spiritual and Non-spiritual Needs Among German Soldiers and Their Relation to Stress Perception, PTDS Symptoms, and Life Satisfaction: Results from a Structural Equation Modeling Approach


In an anonym cross-sectional survey (using standardized questionnaires) among 1092 German soldiers, we found that 21 % regard their faith as a “strong hold in difficult times.” Only a few had specific religious needs. Rather, a consistent theme from the participants was the need to communicate their own fears, worries and desire to attain states of inner peace. “Soldiers” stress perception and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms were associated particularly with existential and Inner Peace Needs. Structural equation modeling indicated that stress perception has a negative influence on soldiers’ life satisfaction, which in turn gives rise to specific unmet spiritual needs. These specific needs may indicate psycho-emotional problems which could be supported very early to prevent health affections and service failure.

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We are grateful to Peter Mees, Christiane Reitz and Gesine Krüger for their support. Arndt Büssing, M.D., is a full professor at the Witten/Herdecke University with a research focus on quality of life, spirituality and coping, and non-pharmacological integrative medicine interventions to treat patients with chronic diseases. He is a non-residential Faculty Scholar, Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health, Duke University Medical Center, USA, and Chairman of the International Society of Health and Spirituality (IGGS). In 2011 he was appointed as a Technical Team Member of the NATO panel HFM-195 on “Integrative Medicine Interventions for Military Personnel.” Daniela R. Recchia has studied mathematics and is now a doctoral student at the Faculty of Health of Witten/Herdecke University.

Conflict of interest

For this study, none of the authors received any financial support. A.B. and D.R.R. are employees of the Witten/Herdecke University and were never employed by any military organization. The authors disclose any competing interests.

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Correspondence to Arndt Büssing.

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Büssing, A., Recchia, D.R. Spiritual and Non-spiritual Needs Among German Soldiers and Their Relation to Stress Perception, PTDS Symptoms, and Life Satisfaction: Results from a Structural Equation Modeling Approach. J Relig Health 55, 747–764 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-015-0073-y

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  • Soldiers
  • Stress perception
  • Posttraumatic stress disorders
  • Life satisfaction
  • Spiritual needs