Commuting, Health and Wellbeing - Mode and duration matter
Health and social differnces
The presentation will contain the result of four years study in a PhD project at the division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, at Lund University.
The thesis had the general aim to study how commuting is related to health and wellbeing in order to better understand the impact on public health. The thesis consists of four papers and the main data used for all four projects is derived from the Public Health Surveys in Scania.
Self-reported mode and duration were used to address commuting combined with individually calculated commuting distance and duration based on registry data and GIS. Regression models were used to study the associations as well as geographically weigthed proportions calculated in GIS.
Doctoral thesis. Target group: Public health and transportation researchers, decision makers and transportation planners.
Yderligere uddybning af abstract
In many western countries commuters are expected to daily travel long distances and durations in order to reach work. Commuting, daily travel between home and work, can be added to the total workday, and consumes a considerable part of the commuters’ day.
The general aim of the thesis was to study how commuting is related to health and wellbeing in order to better understand the impact on public health. We used cross-sectional data from the Public Health Surveys in Scania which are large datasets containing self-reported information on socioeconomic status, gender, family situation, education, health related behaviour, health and wellbeing. Information about income, residential and workplace location was obtained from national registers for each individual commuter. Self-reported mode and duration were used to address commuting combined with individually calculated commuting distance and duration based on registry data and GIS.
Car and public transportation commuters reported lower levels of health and wellbeing in comparison to active commuters. The association between car commuting and stress showed spatial and temporal heterogeneity within areas of higher prevalence of stress among car commuters identified in different areas for different years. Further, we found lower social participation and general trust among car and long duration public transportation commuters. Including health status in study designs commonly used in transportation planning to study mode choices of travel, showed associations between the commuters health status and mode choice of commuting.
Few studies with similar sample size have studied the associations between commuting and wellbeing and social capital. Spatial heterogeneity in the association between car commuting and stress highlighted the importance of considering the geographical context as well as changes in commuting mode and duration over time.
The results are in concordance with prior research and we found supporting evidence for the existence of a so-called commuting paradox, that is, commuters are not fully compensated for longer commuting time. Reduced health and wellbeing among commuters can potentially lead to large economic cost through more sick leaves and increased demand for health care.