A sense of purpose could help you live longer

More and more research suggests that living with purpose could help you to live longer.

A study published in Preventive Medicine aimed to determine whether this effect applies equally across genders, ethnicities, and races. The results showed that having a purpose lowers the risk of all causes of mortality regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity, but the effects were more pronounced among women.

The team analysed a nationwide sample of older adults across the United States to identify associations between a sense of purpose and mortality. Data was used from 13,158 adults over the age of 50, all of whom had participated in the Health and Retirement Study. After an 8 year follow-up period, 3,253 of the participants – 24.7% – had died.

The analysis of the data showed that individuals with a stronger sense of purpose lowered their risk of death by 15.2% compared to people with the least sense of purpose. There were no significant differences in this association despite race or ethnicity. However, the findings showed that the association was stronger with women, although it provided a significant benefit across all genders – women lowered their risk of mortality by 34%, while men reduced their risk by 20%.

The authors used a submodel of Ryff’s Psychological Wellbeing Scale to measure purpose in their study.