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J Postgrad Med. 2014 Oct-Dec;60(4):377-81. doi: 10.4103/0022-3859.143959.

Purpose in life and its association with stress among persons living in a semi-urban area of Tamil Nadu.

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School of Public Health, SRM University, Tamil Nadu, India.



Purpose in life (PIL) is defined as the question concerning the significance or importance of life or one's existence. PIL is closely associated with spirituality and, hence, is an important determinant of health. This, in turn, leads to lower stress response and good mental health.


To assess the PIL and perceived psychosocial stress and to develop a conceptual understanding of the relation between the two.


A questionnaire was developed to understand the PIL in the cultural context of semi-urban Tamil Nadu. Its internal consistency was checked and it was administered to 227 conveniently selected individuals between 15 and 70 years of age.


The questionnaire on PIL developed for this study had an acceptable internal consistency with a Cronbach's alpha of 0.883. Some common purposes in life mentioned by the people were recognition and acknowledgment for their roles and responsibilities, to be a part of a society that is higher class than their current frame, acceptance by people in society, to show people who disagree with them that they are wrong, to be treated with respect, to be known as a person with integrity, love for others, to be beneficial to others at the cost of themselves, to bring equity in the society, and to help others. It was also found that adherence to social norms as a PIL was associated with lower perceived stress.


This study provides a conceptual understanding on the purposes in people's lives in the context of semi-urban Tamil Nadu and their association with perceived psychosocial stress.

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