Reasearch Awards nomination

Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from SATPP and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research

Four-year prospective evaluation of the relationship between meaning in life and smoking status

Barna Konkolÿ Thege12*, Róbert Urbán3 and Mária S Kopp1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Behavioral Sciences, Semmelweis University, Nagyvárad tér 4. XX. em, Budapest, Hungary

2 Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N1N4, Canada

3 Department of Personality and Health Psychology, Eötvös Loránd University, Izabella u. 46, Budapest, 1078, Hungary

For all author emails, please log on.

Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2013, 8:8  doi:10.1186/1747-597X-8-8

Published: 22 February 2013

Abstract

Background

To date, all investigations on the relationship between smoking and perceived level of meaning in life have used cross-sectional designs. Therefore, the purpose of the present prospective study, conducted with a four-year time lag, was to test the predictive power of the life meaning construct concerning changes in smoking status.

Methods

The data of 4,294 respondents (40.3% male, Mage = 54.7 ± 16.5 yrs) from the Hungarian Epidemiological Panel Survey were analyzed using the Kruskal-Wallis and Mann–Whitney U-test and structural equation modeling (SEM) with a nominal outcome variable. Gender, age, and educational level were included in the study as covariates.

Results

On the bivariate level, results showed that both baseline and follow-up meaning in life scores were higher in stable non-smokers when compared to stable smokers. However, quitters and starters differed from stable non-smokers in their baseline but not in follow-up life meaning scores. The other relationships (stable smokers vs. quitters; stable smokers vs. starters, starters vs. quitters) were non-significant in both time points. According to the SEM-analysis, a higher sense of meaning in life measured at baseline and follow-up is associated with a lower likelihood (OR = 0.54, z = 2.80, p = 0.005; OR = 0.64, z = 2.88, p = 0.004, respectively) of being a stable smoker compared to being a stable non-smoker, confirming the expected relationship between smoking and decreased level of meaning in life. However, neither baseline nor follow-up life meaning scores predicted significantly quitting and uptake of smoking.

Conclusions

If future research from other cultures verifies the protective role of a higher level of meaning in life against smoking, then smoking prevention and cessation programs will also have to include such components that help individuals experience more meaning in their lives.

Keywords:
Change in smoking status; Meaning in life; Prospective design; Structural equation modeling