Outcomes

Health Outcomes - The Importance of Meaning and Purpose in Life

The evidence summarized below very strongly suggests that a psychotherapy toolkit based on enhancing meaning and purpose in life will produce significantly improved health outcomes in multiple populations and lead to reduced healthcare costs.

The most well-documented findings on the importance of meaning and purpose in life, based on over 20 empirical studies, demonstrate that:
  1. A positive correlation exists between meaning and measures of well-being and coping,
  2. An inverse correlation exists between meaning and a diagnosis of mental illness,
  3. When mental illness does occur, an inverse correlation exists between meaning and symptom severity.
Other well-documented findings, based on 10 to 20 empirical studies, demonstrate that:
  1. An inverse correlation exists between reasons for living, or purpose in life, and suicidality,
  2. An inverse correlation exists between meaning and a diagnosis of substance use disorders,
  3. A positive correlation exists between meaning and health.
Emerging findings, based on less than 10 empirical studies, include:
  1. Meaning in life is positively correlated with occupational functioning,
  2. An inverse correlation exists between meaning and criminal or antisocial behavior,
  3. Meaning in life is positively correlated with social functioning.
For a complete review of the published evidence, see:

Batthyany, Alexander and Guttman, David in collaboration with PsycINFO, a department of the American Psychological Association.  (1887-present, APA).  (2006).  Empirical Research on Logotherapy and Meaning-oriented Psychotherapy.  Phoenix:  Zeig, Tucker and Theisen, Inc.

Original sources for Viktor Frankl's therapy include:

Frankl, Viktor E.  (1955, 1965, 1980, 1986).  The Doctor and the Soul:  From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy.  Translated by Richard and Clara Winston.  New York:  Vintage Books.

Frankl, Viktor E.  (1959, 1962, 1984, 1992, 2006).  Man's Search for Meaning.  Part I translated by Ilse Lasch.  Boston:  Beacon Press.

Frankl, Viktor E.  (1969).  The Will to Meaning:  Foundation and Applications of Logotherapy.  New York:  World Publishing Company.

Frankl, Viktor E.  (2004).  On the Theory and Therapy of Mental Disorders.  Translated by James M. Dubois.  New York:  Brunner-Routledge.

Furthermore, a pilot randomized controlled study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that a treatment manual based on Viktor Frankl's principles for a meaning-based therapy had "clear short-term benefits for spiritual suffering and quality of life in patients with advanced cancer." 

See Breitbart, W., Poppito, S., Rosenfeld, B., Vickers, A. J., Li Y., Abbey, J., …Cassileth, B. R. (2012). Pilot randomized controlled trial of individual meaning-centered psychotherapy for patients with advanced cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 30, 1304-1309. Retrieved from http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/30/12/1304.abstract?sid=b385002d-0b4a-4dca-a7de-5a439f6d28e0


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