Relational Prayer, Resilience, Perceived Stress, and Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Air Medical Flight Crews
AdvisorReed, Pamela G.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 12/31/2026
AbstractBackground: Medical flight crews are an understudied group of first responders who experience various stressors that are unique to their profession. These stressors disproportionately increase their risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as other mental health conditions. Currently, little is known regarding the strategies medical flight crews use to cope with their occupational stressors. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to understand and describe the relationships between relational prayer, resilience, perceived stress, and post-traumatic stress symptoms among flight nurses and flight paramedics. Methods: This study employed a mixed-methods approach with convergent design. Correlational and regression analyses were applied to quantitative data and thematic analysis was used to identify, code, and categorize patterns into themes from qualitative data. Matrix analysis techniques were used to examine quantitative and qualitative data results concurrently, in a convergent manner. This methodological triangulation provided a comprehensive understanding of the complex phenomena involved in the everyday practice and health experiences of medical flight crews as they relate to relational prayer, resilience, perceived stress, and PTSD symptomatology. The quantitative element of the design allowed for data summaries yielding generalizations based on statistical estimations. The qualitative element provided rich, descriptive detail about the human context for interpreting quantitative results. Findings: A total of 246 participants completed an online survey and were included in the final analysis. Multiple regression analyses revealed the best set of independent predictors for perceived stress are relational prayer, resilience, gender, and ethnicity (R=.514, R2 = .265, Adj. R2 = .236, p < .001). The best set of predictors for PTSD symptomatology are resilience and previous mental health diagnosis (R=.438, R2 = .192, Adj. R2 = .182, p < .001). Most participants (56.91%) reported they engage in relational prayer. Of those that pray, 71% reported they felt they were developing a relationship with the entity they pray to, making relational prayer a salient concept among those who pray. Engagement in relational prayer was found to be associated with decreased stress (r = -.278, p = .003) and with several themes identified through qualitative analyses: 1) Calming Effect, 2) Lightening Emotional Burdens, 3) Improved Clinical Competence, 4) Coping, 5) Open & Direct Communication, and 6) Relationship Building. Qualitative analyses also revealed that engaging in prayer increased their resilience and decreased any PTSD symptoms. Data collection for this study occurred approximately three months after the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic had spread world-wide. There was a notable link between pandemic stress and perceived stress (r = .494, p < .001) and PTSD symptoms (r = .340, p < .001). Conclusions and Implications: Flight nurses and flight paramedics belong to an elite group of first responders who experience consistent stress responding to traumas, disasters, and emergency situations. This study has elucidated the significance of relational prayer as a potentially effective stress relief modality. As research investigating other spiritual practices such as meditation and mindfulness grow, so should research investigating prayer. For many, it is a meaningful centuries old practice that deserves contemporary scholarly attention.
Degree ProgramGraduate College