1. In this systematic review, purpose in life was conceptualized as: health and well-being, meaningful goals and purpose, inner strength, social relationships, mattering to others, spirituality and religiousness.
2. Purpose in life was associated with female gender, higher education and income, being married, ethnicity, health and well-being, inner strength, social integration and spirituality.
Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)
In the literature, purpose and meaning in life have often been used interchangeably. However, many argue that purpose in life (PIL) has a more specific role than the broader definition of meaning in life (MIL) and may promote health outcomes. Given the growth of this field and the need for a distinction between MIL and PIL, the objective of the present systematic review was to assess how PIL is conceptualized, measured, and what factors are associated with PIL.
Of 1173 identified records, 44 were included in the study from 1995 to November 2021. Studies were included if they investigated PIL in community-dwelling older adults (≥65 years old). Patients in nursing homes and clinical cohorts (e.g. terminally ill) were excluded. Bias was assessed using the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) critical appraisal checklist as well as the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT).
Results demonstrated that PIL was conceptualized as: health and well-being, meaningful goals and purpose, inner strength, social relationships, mattering to others, spirituality, and religiousness. Furthermore, PIL was associated with female gender, higher education and income, being married, ethnicity, health and well-being, inner strength, social integration and spirituality. However, the present study was limited by the inclusion of multiple articles from the same authors from the same country, thereby limiting how PIL may be assessed internationally. Nonetheless, this is the first review that has aided in conceptualizing, measuring and elucidating the determinants of PIL in the elderly.
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