Future Orientation and Health Quality of Life in Primary Care: Vitality as a Mediator

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Purpose: Temporal perspective, including views about future goals, may influence motivational processes related to health. An adaptive sense of future orientation is linked to better health, but little research has examined potential underlying factors, such as vitality.

Method: In a sample of 101 primary care patients, we examined whether belief in the changeability of the future was related to mental and physical energization and, in turn, to health-related quality of life. Participants were working, uninsured primary care patients, who completed self-report measures of future orientation, vitality, and health-related quality of life.

Results: Mediation models, covarying age, sex, and race/ethnicity indicated that vitality significantly mediated the association between future orientation and the outcomes of general health, mental health, social functioning, bodily pain, and role limitations due to emotional and physical reasons. Vitality exerted an indirect-only effect on the relation between future orientation and physical functioning.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that adaptive beliefs about the future may promote, or allow access to, physical and mental energy and, in turn, may result in better mental and physical health functioning. Individual-level and public health interventions designed to promote future orientation and vitality may beneficially influence quality of life and well-being.