Campus Shootings: Does Religious Faith and Relationship with Victims Affect Psychological Well-Being?
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)
First Advisor/Committee Member
Lynette H. Bikos
Second Advisor/Committee Member
Third Advisor/Committee Member
Active shooting incidents have become an increasing public safety concern and have a large impact on the communities in which these traumatic events take place. However, while understanding outcomes following these incidents is relevant for mental health providers, first responders, and policy creators, little is known about outcome trajectories and coping best practices due to practical and ethical research limitations. Using hierarchical linear modeling, we examined longitudinal psychological well-being (PWB; MHI; Veit & Ware, 1983) trajectories of students before and after an active shooting incident (N = 35). Furthermore, this study focused on examining the moderating effects of strength of religious faith (SRF; Plante & Boccaccini, 1997a, b) on PWB trajectories. The number of observations in the longitudinal dataset ranged from 1 to 7 (M = 3.24; SD = 1.76) and span 24.18 months prior to the campus shooting through 24.33 months following the campus shooting. Survey data was collected in up to seven waves, surrounding students’ participation in an education abroad program: 6 months pre-departure (estimated), 2 weeks pre-departure (estimated), and re-entry intervals of 2 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months. Results of our study indicated that while individuals experienced fluctuations in PWB, the group data was not best explained with a linear or quadratic model as a function of time. However, before the shooting, strength of faith had a significant, inverse, effect on PWB, such that higher strength of faith was associated with lower PWB (B01 = -0.776, p = 0.003). The effect of exposure to the shooting was only observed in its interaction with aggregate strength of faith, such that following the shooting stronger faith was associated with increased PWB (B22 = .522, p = 0.057). These findings are consistent with others suggesting heterogenous outcomes around the religiosity variable. Implications from our study include the importance of assessing individuals’ possible religiosity and religious meaning-making following active shooting incidents, as well as the importance of providing mental health supports for the communities affected.
Gowen, Melissa J., "Campus Shootings: Does Religious Faith and Relationship with Victims Affect Psychological Well-Being?" (2019). Clinical Psychology Dissertations. 44.