Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 51, Issue 5, pp 775–781 | Cite as

The Mediating Role of Meaning in the Association between Stress and Health

  • Daryl R. Van Tongeren
  • Peter C. Hill
  • Neal Krause
  • Gail H. Ironson
  • Kenneth I. Pargament
Brief Report



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.


Meaning in life Stress Health Immune functioning 


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daryl R. Van Tongeren
    • 1
  • Peter C. Hill
    • 2
  • Neal Krause
    • 3
  • Gail H. Ironson
    • 4
  • Kenneth I. Pargament
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHope CollegeHollandUSA
  2. 2.Biola UniversityLa MiradaUSA
  3. 3.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.University of MiamiMiamiUSA
  5. 5.Bowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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