Meaning in Life Moderates the Relationship Between Sacred Loss/Desecration and Health

Neal Krause, Kenneth I. Pargament, Gail Ironson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


According to sanctification theory, religious people tend to imbue certain aspects of their lives with spiritual character and significance. Moreover, they take active steps to preserve and protect sacred aspects of their lives that might be threatened. If they are successful, they derive a deep sense of satisfaction and well-being. However, when stressful events arise, some individuals are not able to preserve and protect the facets of their lives that they have come to view as sacred. The resulting sacred loss/desecration can be associated with physical and mental health problems. The purpose of the current study is to see if a sense of meaning in life buffers (i.e., moderates) the relationship between sacred loss/desecration and four measures of health: physical functioning, the number of chronic conditions, symptoms of physical illness, and self-rated health. Data from a recent nationwide survey (N = 2,104–2,107) suggest that the negative relationship between sacred loss/desecration and each health outcome is lower for people who have a stronger sense of meaning in life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-376
Number of pages12
JournalJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • meaning in life
  • physical health status
  • sacred loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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