Those who have a higher sense of purpose in life also have a lower mortality rate and cardiovascular risk, according to new findings. “Possessing a high sense of purpose in life is associated with a reduced risk for mortality and cardiovascular events,” said the authors of the study, Dr. Randy Cohen and Dr. Alan Rozanski. Their findings suggest that strengthening your sense of purpose can lead to greater health outcomes.
The researchers conducted a meta-analysis by pooling data from previous research and comparing relationships between life purpose, risk of death and cardiovascular risk. Participants were from Japan and the U.S. and their average age was 67. During the study time periods 14,500 participants died from a variety of causes, and over 4,000 suffered cardiovascular events.
Lower risk of death was seen in participants with a higher sense of purpose in life – even after adjusting for other factors that could lead to death. The authors stated, “Conversely, more recent study provides evidence that positive psychosocial factors can promote healthy physiological functioning and greater longevity.”
Additional research is required to fully understand how a sense of purpose can work to improve health outcomes; however, the preliminary research so far does show a strong relationship between the two.
Dr. Rozanski commented, “Of note, having a strong sense of life purpose has long been postulated to be an important dimension of life, providing people with a sense of vitality motivation and resilience. Nevertheless, the medical implications of living with a high or low sense of life purpose have only recently caught the attention of investigators. The current findings are important because they may open up new potential interventions for helping people to promote their health and sense of well-being.”