Survey: The impact of moral injury on functioning in LEOs and first responders

Study seeks to understand how repeated exposure to events that challenge one’s moral code impacts the psychological health and wellness of officers

By Police1 Staff

Researchers are seeking participants for a study on moral injury in law enforcement officers. Moral injury can occur when someone fails to prevent or witnesses an event that contradicts deeply held moral beliefs or expectations. Moral injury can also occur when someone commits an act that challenges their moral beliefs.

Moral injury has been studied predominantly in military veterans, and information on the prevalence and impact of moral injury on law enforcement officers is extremely limited. Information on the role of moral injury in the psychological health of law enforcement officers can lead to enhanced prevention and intervention efforts, as moral injury may be a unique phenomenon that does not fit neatly into other conditions like PTSD or depression.

Dr. Michelle Lilly is a professor at Northern Illinois University who has conducted both research and clinical work with first responders over the past decade. She has previously published articles for Police1 and is considered a subject matter expert in first responder psychological health and intervention. Her team is hoping to recruit active duty law enforcement officers to participate in a 10-12-minute survey. Other first responders, including 9-1-1 telecommunicators, fire personnel and EMS, are also invited to participate.

Responses are confidential and accessible only by the research team. The survey will close on May 20 and can be found here:

Dr. Lilly can be contacted with questions regarding the study at The research team plans to share survey results in the weeks following the closure of the survey.

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