Meaning in Life: Is It a Protective Factor for Adolescents’ Psychological Health?
Searching for a coherent meaning in life has long been proposed to be a protective factor in adolescent development.
The present study aimed to examine meaning in life as a protective factor in a largely unstudied population: Romanian adolescents. Additionally, we sought to provide a novel, multidimensional assessment of several health-related variables (substance abuse, health risk behaviors, psychological health). Potential gender differences were explored regarding the role of life meaning in adolescent health.
Data were collected in 2006 from students enrolled in the secondary schools of the Middle Transylvanian Region, Romania (n = 1,977). Self-administered questionnaires were used as a method of data collection including items of life meaning and psychological health.
Meaning in life played a protective role with regard to health risk behaviors except smoking and binge drinking. Among males, meaning in life was found to be correlated only to illicit drug and sedative use, whereas among females, meaning in life was associated with binge drinking, unsafe sex, and lack of exercise and diet control. Psychological health was strongly related to meaning in life.
In Romanian adolescents, meaning in life is a protective factor against health risk behaviors and poor psychological health.
KeywordsMeaning in life Psychological health Health risk behavior Adolescence Protection
- 6.Eaton DE, Kann L, Kinchen S, Ross J, Hawkins J, Harris WA, Lowry R, McManus T, Chyen D, Shanklin S, Lim C, Grunbaum JA, Wechsler H. Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States, 2005. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Surveillance Summaries. 2006; 55/No. SS-5.Google Scholar
- 14.Halama P. Dimensions of life meaning as factor of coping. Stud Psycholog. 2000;42:339–50.Google Scholar
- 16.Räty LKA, Larsson G, Söderfeldt BA, Larsson BMW. Psychosocial aspects of health in adolescence: the influence of gender, and general self-concept. J Adolesc Health 2005; 36:530.e21–530.e28.Google Scholar
- 17.Simonsson B, Nilsson KW, Leppert J, Diwan VK. Psychosomatic complaints and sense of coherence among adolescents in a county in Sweden: a cross-sectional school survey. Bio Psycho Soc Med. 2008;2:3–12.Google Scholar
- 18.Rathi N, Rastogi R. Meaning in life and psychological well-being in pre-adolescents and adolescents. J Ind Acad Appl Psychol. 2007;33:31–8.Google Scholar
- 19.Halama P, Medova M. Meaning in life and hope as predictors of positive mental health: do they explain residual variance not predicted by personality trait? Stud Psycholog. 2007;49:191–200.Google Scholar
- 24.Steger MF. Experiencing meaning in life: Optimal functioning at the nexus of spirituality, psychopathology, and well-being. In: Wong PTP, Fry PS, eds. The human quest for meaning (2nd ed). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; in press.Google Scholar
- 25.Addad M, Himi H. Meaning of life and drug use among Israeli teenagers. Int Forum Logother. 2008;31:43–8.Google Scholar
- 29.Öztekin C, Tezer E. The role of sense of coherence and psychical activity in positive and negative affect of Turkish adolescents. Adolesc. 2009;44:421–32.Google Scholar
- 32.Simantov E, Schoen C, Klein J. Health-compromising behavior: why do adolescents smoke and drink? Identifying underlying risk and protective factors. Ach Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000;154:1025–33.Google Scholar
- 35.Purebl Gy, Rózsa S, Kopp M. A Rövid Stressz Kérdőív kifejlesztése és pszichometriai jellemzőinek előzetes adatai. (Development of and preliminary psychometric results with the Hungarian version of the Brief Stress and Coping Questionnaire). Mentálhig Pszichoszom. 2006;7:217–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 38.World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe and the International Diabetes Federation, Europe. Diabetes mellitus in Europe: a problem at all ages and in all countries. A model for prevention and self care. Meeting. Giorn Ital Diabetol 1990; 10 (suppl).Google Scholar
- 39.Bech P. Quality of life in the psychiatric patient. London: Mosby-Wolfe; 1998.Google Scholar
- 40.Bech P. Male depression: stress and aggression as pathways to major depression. In: Dawson A, Tylee A, editors. Depression: social and economic timebomb. London: BMJ Books; 2001. p. 63–6.Google Scholar