Continuing with an exploration of the research literature on ‘Purpose in Life’, I conducted a search in Medline using the search term “Purpose in Life” looking for papers on cardiac conditions. At the time of writing the search retrieved 324 results and of these 7 related to cardiac conditions. On closer examination, 4 of these were relevant to the search question. There was no overarching theme from these 4 studies other than to say there were generally positive associations with a stronger sense of purpose in life. These results were however consistent with a number of other research studies on purpose in life particularly in terms of survival and perception of health (see Appendix).
In this 6 year follow-up study, 95 people who had undergone heart transplants were assessed for ‘quality of life, psychological distress and psychological well-being’. There were a number of factors having significant associations with survival amongst which was the strength of purpose in life. In another study, 130 people attending a cardiac clinic in the USA (average age 60) were found to exhibit a significant relationship between purposiveness and positive perceived health and that this relationship was mediated through physical exercise. In a large 15-year prospective cohort study, researchers followed up 2959 people in Japan where subjects completed a self-administered questionnaire on purpose in life. They found that having a strong sense of purpose in life was associated with a reduction in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. The adjusted hazard ratio was 0.56 for people with a strong sense of purpose in life compared to those with a low sense of purpose in life (the 95% confidence interval was 0.1-0.84). In a study of 308 people with congenital heart malformations there was found to be no significant difference on six measures of psychological well-being between people with simple and complex malformations. However there was a significant and positive correlation between strength of purpose in life and both level of education and employment status.
Appendix – Blog Articles on Purpose in Life
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