UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Meaning in life in chronic pain patients over time: associations with pain experience and psychological well-being

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Health Psychology | Mental and Social Health | Pain Management


We explored the relationship between meaning in life and adjustment to chronic pain in a three-wave, 2 year, longitudinal study of 273 Belgian chronic pain patients. We examined the directionality of the relationships among the meaning in life dimensions (Presence of Meaning and Search for Meaning) and indicators of adjustment (depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, pain intensity, and pain medication use). We found that Presence of Meaning was an important predictor of well-being. Secondly, we used a typological methodology to distinguish meaning in life profiles, and the relationship of individual meaning in life profiles with indicators of adjustment. Five meaning in life profiles emerged: High Presence High Search, High Presence Low Search, Moderate Presence Moderate Search, Low Presence Low Search, and Low Presence High Search. Each meaning in life profile was associated with a unique adjustment outcome. Profiles that scored high on Presence of Meaning showed more optimal adjustment. The profiles showed little change over time and did not moderate the development of adjustment indicators, except for life satisfaction. Practical implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.


Meaning in life, Pain patients, Longitudinal analyses, Adjustment

DOI of Published Version



J Behav Med. 2015 Apr;38(2):384-96. doi: 10.1007/s10865-014-9614-1. Epub 2014 Dec 24. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of behavioral medicine

PubMed ID