This study examined the role of a sense of purpose in life (PIL) in recovery from knee replacement surgery in 64 surgery patients. Each of the surgery patients had been diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis of the knee. Regression analyses were conducted predicting changes in health 6 months after surgery. When considered alone, PIL was related to less anxiety, depression, negative affect, functional disability, stiffness, and more positive affect. When optimism, pessimism, and emotionality were controlled, PIL was still related to less negative affect, depression, and anxiety, and more positive affect. The results suggest that PIL may be an important positive personal characteristic and target for interventions.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Addad, M. (1987). Psychogenic neuroticism and noogenic self-strengthening. International Forum for Logotherapy, 10, 52–59.
Andersson, G. (1997). The benefits of optimism: A meta-analytic review of the Life Orientation Test. Personality and Individual Differences, 21, 719–725.
Antonovsky, A. (1987). Unraveling the mystery of health. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Aspinwall, L. G. (1998). Rethinking the role of positive affect in self-regulation. Motivation and Emotion, 22, 1–32.
Baum, S. K., & Boxley, R. L. (1983). Depression and old age identification. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 39, 584–590.
Baumeister, R. F. (1991). Meanings of life. New York: Guilford.
Bellamy, N., Buchanan, W. W., Goldsmith, C. H., Campbell, J., & Stitt, L. (1988). Validation of the WOMAC: A health status instrument for measuring clinically important patient relevant outcomes to antirheumatic drug therapy in patients with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. Journal of Rheumatology, 15, 1833–1840.
Braithwaite, V. A. (1987). The scale of emotional arousability: Bridging the gap between the neuroticism construct and its measurement. Psychological Medicine, 17, 217–225.
Callahan, C. M., Drake, B. G., Heck, S. A., & Dittus, R. S. (1994). Patient outcomes following tricompartmental total knee replacement: A meta-analysis. JAMA, 271, 1349–1357.
Chang, E. C., Maydeu-Olivares, A., & D’ Zurilla, T. J. (1997). Optimism and pessimism as partially independent constructs: Relationship to positive and negative affectivity and psychological well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 23, 433–440.
Frankl, V. E. (1992). Man’s search for meaning (4th ed.). Boston: Beacon.
Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General Psychology, 2, 300–319.
Hart, K. E., Hittner, J. B., & Paras, K. (1991). Sense of coherence, trait anxiety, and the perceived availability of social support. Journal of Research in Personality, 25, 37–145.
Ryff, C. D., & Keyes, C. L. M. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 719–727.
Ryff, C. D., & Singer, B. (1998). The role of purpose in life and personal growth in positive human health. In T. P. Wong & P. S. Fry (Eds.), The human quest for meaning: A handbook of psychological research and clinical applications (pp. 213–235). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (2001). Adapting to cancer: The importance of hope and purpose. In A. Baum & B. L. Anderson (Eds.), Psychosocial interventions for cancer, (pp. 213–235). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S., & Bridges, M. W. (1994). Distinguishing optimism from neuroticism (and trait anxiety, self-mastery, and self-esteem): A reevaluation of the Life Orientation Test. Journal of Personality and Social Personality, 67, 1063–1078.
Seligman, M. E. P. (1999). The president’s address. American Psychologist: 1998 APA Annual Report, 559–562.
Smith, T. W., Pope, M. K., Rhodewalt, F., & Poulton, J. L. (1989). Optimism, neuroticism, coping, and symptom reports: An alter native interpretation of the Life Orientation Test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 640–648.
Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (1996). Using multivariate statistics. New York: Harper Collins.
Veit, C. T., & Ware, J. E., Jr. (1983). The structure of psychological distress and well-being in general populations. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 51, 730–742.
Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070.
Watson, D., & Pennebaker, J. W. (1989). Health complaints, stress, and distress: Exploring the central role of negative affectivity. Psychological Review, 96, 234–254,
Wong, T. P., & Fry, P. S. (Eds.). (1998). The human quest for meaning: A handbook of psychological research and clinical applications. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
About this article
Cite this article
Smith, B.W., Zautra, A.J. The role of purpose in life in recovery from knee surgery. Int. J. Behav. Med. 11, 197 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327558ijbm1104_2
- purpose in life
- knee surgery