Improvement in personal meaning mediates the effects of a life review intervention on depressive symptoms in a randomized controlled trial

Gerben Johan Westerhof, Ernst Thomas Bohlmeijer, Ilse M.J. Beljouw, Anne Margriet Pot

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Purpose: The purpose of the study was to assess the impact of a life review intervention on personal meaning in life and the mediating effect of personal meaning on depressive symptoms as the primary outcome of this form of indicated prevention. Design and Methods: A multicenter randomized controlled trial was conducted with one group of older adults obtaining life review (N = 83) and the other watching a video about the art of growing older (N = 88). Measurements took place before and after the intervention as well as 6 months later at follow-up. Results: It was found that those who followed life review improved more in personal meaning than those in the control group, although at follow-up the difference was no longer significant. Improvements in meaning during the intervention predicted decreases in depressive symptoms later in time and mediated the effects of the program on depressive symptoms. Implications: Personal meaning is an important asset in contemporary society, which some older adults find difficult to achieve. The findings from this study show that it is possible to support older persons in their search for meaning by means of life review and that this helps in alleviating depressive symptoms
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-549
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010



  • METIS-271471
  • IR-86422

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