Meaning in life: an important factor for the psychological well-being of chronically ill patients?

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Adaptation, Psychological; Adult; Aged; Attitude to Health; Chronic Disease; Cluster Analysis; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Personal Satisfaction; Quality of Life; Questionnaires; Self Concept


Mental and Social Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


PURPOSE: This study aimed to investigate 2 dimensions of meaning in life--Presence of Meaning (i.e., the perception of your life as significant, purposeful, and valuable) and Search for Meaning (i.e., the strength, intensity, and activity of people's efforts to establish or increase their understanding of the meaning in their lives)--and their role for the well-being of chronically ill patients.

RESEARCH DESIGN: A sample of 481 chronically ill patients (M = 50 years, SD = 7.26) completed measures on meaning in life, life satisfaction, optimism, and acceptance. We hypothesized that Presence of Meaning and Search for Meaning will have specific relations with all 3 aspects of well-being.

RESULTS: Cluster analysis was used to examine meaning in life profiles. Results supported 4 distinguishable profiles (High Presence High Search, Low Presence High Search, High Presence Low Search, and Low Presence Low Search) with specific patterns in relation to well-being and acceptance. Specifically, the 2 profiles in which meaning is present showed higher levels of well-being and acceptance, whereas the profiles in which meaning is absent are characterized by lower levels. Furthermore, the results provided some clarification on the nature of the Search for Meaning process by distinguishing between adaptive (the High Presence High Search cluster) and maladaptive (the Low Presence High Search cluster) searching for meaning in life.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study provides an initial glimpse in how meaning in life may be related to the well-being of chronically ill patients and the acceptance of their condition. Clinical implications are discussed.

DOI of Published Version



Dezutter J, Casalin S, Wachholtz A, Luyckx K, Hekking J, Vandewiele W. Meaning in life: an important factor for the psychological well-being of chronically ill patients? Rehabil Psychol. 2013 Nov;58(4):334-41. doi: 10.1037/a0034393. Link to article on publisher's website

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Rehabilitation psychology

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID