The Mediating Role of Meaning in the Association between Stress and Health

Daryl R. Van Tongeren, Peter C. Hill, Neal Krause, Gail H. Ironson, Kenneth I. Pargament

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Stress is a common feature of life and has routinely been linked with negative health outcomes. However, meaning has been identified as a possible buffer against stress. Purpose: The purpose of the current study was to examine whether the relationship between stress and health was mediated by meaning in life. Methods: Drawing from Wave 1 of the Landmark Spirituality and Health Study, a nationally representative sample of adults, participants (N = 1871) reported their level of stress in the past 12 months, current meaning in life, health (measured as minor symptoms, major conditions, and overall health), and provided a blood sample for biomarker of immune system functioning (i.e., presence of Epstein–Barr virus antibodies). Results: Results revealed an indirect effects model in which stress was inversely associated with meaning. Higher meaning was related to better self-reported health (across minor, major, and overall health measures), which, in turn, was associated with better immune system functioning. Conclusions: These findings suggest that part of the negative effect of stress on health is accounted for by reduced meaning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)775-781
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Health
  • Immune functioning
  • Meaning in life
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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