Purpose in life and use of preventive health care services.

TitlePurpose in life and use of preventive health care services.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsKim, ES, Strecher, VJ, Ryff, CD
JournalProc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Date Published2014 Nov 18
ISSN Number1091-6490
KeywordsAged, Aged, 80 and over, Early Detection of Cancer, Educational Status, ethnicity, Female, Habits, Hematologic Tests, Hospitalization, Humans, Influenza Vaccines, Insurance Coverage, Male, Marital Status, Middle Aged, Models, Psychological, Motivation, Patient Acceptance of Health Care, Preventive Health Services, Surveys and Questionnaires, Vaccination

Purpose in life has been linked with better health (mental and physical) and health behaviors, but its link with patterns of health care use are understudied. We hypothesized that people with higher purpose would be more proactive in taking care of their health, as indicated by a higher likelihood of using preventive health care services. We also hypothesized that people with higher purpose would spend fewer nights in the hospital. Participants (n = 7,168) were drawn from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel study of American adults over the age of 50, and tracked for 6 y. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, each unit increase in purpose (on a six-point scale) was associated with a higher likelihood that people would obtain a cholesterol test [odds ratio (OR) = 1.18, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.08-1.29] or colonoscopy (OR = 1.06, 95% CI = 0.99-1.14). Furthermore, females were more likely to receive a mammogram/X-ray (OR = 1.27, 95% CI = 1.16-1.39) or pap smear (OR = 1.16, 95% CI = 1.06-1.28), and males were more likely to receive a prostate examination (OR = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.18-1.45). Each unit increase in purpose was also associated with 17% fewer nights spent in the hospital (rate ratio = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.77-0.89). An increasing number of randomized controlled trials show that purpose in life can be raised. Therefore, with additional research, findings from this study may inform the development of new strategies that increase the use of preventive health care services, offset the burden of rising health care costs, and enhance the quality of life among people moving into the ranks of our aging society.


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Endnote Keywords

purpose in life/meaning in life/well-being/health screening/preventive health care/Public Policy/depressive Symptoms/proactive health behavior

Endnote ID


Alternate JournalProc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Citation Key8128
PubMed ID25368165
PubMed Central IDPMC4246300
Grant ListU01 AG009740 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
U01AG09740 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States