The Mediating Role of Meaning in the Association between Stress and Health
Stress is a common feature of life and has routinely been linked with negative health outcomes. However, meaning has been identified as a possible buffer against stress.
The purpose of the current study was to examine whether the relationship between stress and health was mediated by meaning in life.
Drawing from Wave 1 of the Landmark Spirituality and Health Study, a nationally representative sample of adults, participants (N = 1871) reported their level of stress in the past 12 months, current meaning in life, health (measured as minor symptoms, major conditions, and overall health), and provided a blood sample for biomarker of immune system functioning (i.e., presence of Epstein–Barr virus antibodies).
Results revealed an indirect effects model in which stress was inversely associated with meaning. Higher meaning was related to better self-reported health (across minor, major, and overall health measures), which, in turn, was associated with better immune system functioning.
These findings suggest that part of the negative effect of stress on health is accounted for by reduced meaning.
KeywordsMeaning in life Stress Health Immune functioning
- 5.Lazarus RS, Folkman S. Stress, Appraisal, and Coping. New York: Springer Publishing Company; 1984.Google Scholar
- 7.Frankl, V. Man’s Search for Meaning. Beacon Publishers; 1959.Google Scholar
- 15.Hood, RW Jr, Hill PC, Williamson WP. The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism. New York: Guilford Press; 2005.Google Scholar
- 17.Park CL, Edmondson D, Blank, TO. Religious and non-religious pathways to stress-related growth in cancer survivors. App Psychol: Health Well-Being. 2009; 1: 321–335.Google Scholar
- 19.Krause N. Meaning in life and healthy aging. In: Wong, PTP, ed. The Human Quest for Meaning: Theories, Research, and Applications (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge; 2012: 409–432.Google Scholar
- 24.Hayes AF. Introduction to Mediation, Moderation, and Conditional Process Analysis: A Regression-Based Approach. New York, NY: Guilford Press; 2013.Google Scholar
- 25.Berger PL. The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory. New York, NY: Doubleday; 1967.Google Scholar
- 26.Erikson E. Childhood and Society (1st ed.). New York: Norton. 1950Google Scholar