The role of purpose in life in recovery from knee surgery

Bruce W. Smith, Alex J. Zautra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


This study examined the role of a sense of purpose in life (PIL) in recovery from knee replacement surgery in 64 surgery patients. Each of the surgery patients had been diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis of the knee. Regression analyses were conducted predicting changes in health 6 months after surgery. When considered alone, PIL was related to less anxiety, depression, negative affect, functional disability, stiffness, and more positive affect. When optimism, pessimism, and emotionality were controlled, PIL was still related to less negative affect, depression, and anxiety, and more positive affect. The results suggest that PIL may be an important positive personal characteristic and target for interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-202
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004


  • Knee surgery
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Purpose in life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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