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Humanitarian crises like natural disasters and violent conflict are afflicting vast numbers of people today. UNHCR reports that the 110 million people currently displaced are more than at any time in history. A critical challenge of our time is to understand effective ways to foster resilience in such settings. Because spirituality, religion, and faith-based actors such as churches and aid organizations play a key role in how people make meaning amidst adversity, we need to advance the science and practice of these elements.

Over the past decade, members of our team have developed a holistic intervention in human crisis settings designed for rapid deployment through church networks. Spiritual First Aid (SFA) is a spiritual and emotional care intervention that addresses multiple aspects of human flourishing and has been applied in various contexts--e.g, natural disasters, displacement, and armed conflict.

This project will measure the effectiveness of SFA and a series of cash transfers in the context of internally displaced people (IDP) in Ukraine. The randomized trial will test the effectiveness of SFA in (a) directing the wounded to medical attention, (b) promoting psychological coping and resilience, (c) fostering social networks, (d) communicating opportunities for livelihood and employment, and (e) delivering spiritual counseling and prayer.

Given the very scant research on spiritually-oriented psychosocial interventions, this project will yield new insights about what works, what challenges persist, and how to overcome them in the future.

The project will also shed light on the importance of context and cultural adaptation. Findings will be shared widely and directly with relief organizations in Ukraine. Insights will be shared with humanitarian organizations, with the research community, and with a wider audience about conducting and researching similar interventions elsewhere in the world.