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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Nov 18;111(46):16331-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1414826111. Epub 2014 Nov 3.

Purpose in life and use of preventive health care services.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109; kimeric@umich.edu.
  • 2Department of Health Behavior & Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI 48109; and.
  • 3Department of Psychology and Institute on Aging, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53705.

Abstract

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.

KEYWORDS:

health screening; meaning in life; purpose in life; well-being

PMID:
25368165
PMCID:
PMC4246300
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1414826111
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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