Meaning in Life: Is It a Protective Factor for Adolescents’ Psychological Health?

Meaning in Life: Is It a Protective Factor for Adolescents’ Psychological Health?
László Brassai & Bettina F. Piko & Michael F. Steger
Published online: 20 October 2010
All rights reserved International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2010

Abstract

Background Searching for a coherent meaning in life has long been proposed to be a protective factor in adolescent development. Purpose The present study aimed to examine meaning in life as a protective factor in a largely unstudied population:
Romanian adolescents. Additionally, we sought to provide a novel, multidimensional assessment of several healthrelated variables (substance abuse, health risk behaviors,
psychological health). Potential gender differences were explored regarding the role of life meaning in adolescent health.
Method Data were collected in 2006 from students enrolled in the secondary schools of the Middle Transylvanian Region, Romania (n=1,977). Self-administered questionnaires were used as a method of data collection including items of life meaning and psychological health. Results Meaning in life played a protective role with regard
to health risk behaviors except smoking and binge drinking. Among males, meaning in life was found to be correlated only to illicit drug and sedative use, whereas among
females, meaning in life was associated with binge drinking, unsafe sex, and lack of exercise and diet control. Psychological health was strongly related to meaning in
life. Conclusion In Romanian adolescents, meaning in life is a protective factor against health risk behaviors and poor psychological health.

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Int.J. Behav. Med. (2011) 18:44–51

DOI 10.1007/s12529-010-9089-6

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