The impact of public transport on the health of work commuters: a systematic review

Sarah Norgate (Corresponding), A.M. Cooper-Ryan, S Lavin, C Stonier, Cary L Cooper

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Although the public transport (PT) commute can form a substantial part of the working day, there is a significant gap in our understanding of how it influences health of those who engage in it. The purpose of this systematic review was to therefore generate evidence from 1972 about the extent to which the PT commute (involving train, bus, subway, tram, or metro) impacts on the mental health, physical health and well-being of the working people. We identified 47 studies in English worldwide involving an empirical quantitative focus which met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 23 studies involved over 500 participants. Although initial multi-modal comparisons showed impact on sickness rate, self-rated health complaints, perceived stress level and reduction in sleep, a more homogeneous analysis of rail commuters showed elevation in salivary cortisol, perceived stress, and affective reactions to crowding. Findings also revealed a bias towards use of endogenous self-report measures. On this basis, we argue that it would be of benefit to test theoretical models to account for more objective measures of job and commuting stress. Recommendations were made for flexible working agendas.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth psychology review
Early online date12 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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