Applied Research in Quality of Life

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 1055–1079

Meaning and Health: A Systematic Review


    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Pennsylvania
    • Positive Psychology CenterUniversity of Pennsylvania
  • Eranda Jayawickreme
    • Department of PsychologyWake Forest University
  • Olivia M. Riffle
    • Positive Psychology CenterUniversity of Pennsylvania

DOI: 10.1007/s11482-013-9288-9

Cite this article as:
Roepke, A.M., Jayawickreme, E. & Riffle, O.M. Applied Research Quality Life (2014) 9: 1055. doi:10.1007/s11482-013-9288-9


The research base linking meaning with physical health is significantly underdeveloped in comparison to that linking subjective well-being and physical health. We address this deficit by first providing an overview of the study of meaning, and then examining evidence of its positive relationship to physical health in a systematic review of relevant literature. We searched PsycINFO and PubMed databases for studies of varying design and populations, excluding studies that did not have clear measures of meaning and physical health and/or did not address their relationship. Overall, higher levels of meaning are clearly associated with better physical health, as well as with behavioral factors that decrease the probability of negative health outcomes or increase that of positive health outcomes. Methodological challenges and future directions are discussed.


MeaningPurposePhysical healthPosttraumatic growth

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2013