Commuting--a further stress factor for working people: evidence from the European Community. II. An empirical study

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 1988;60(5):377-85. doi: 10.1007/BF00405674.


This report summarizes the main results of research promoted by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, concerning the impact of commuting on the health and safety of workers. An empirical study, carried out among 1167 industrial Italian workers, shows that "commuters" (workers whose journey from home to work usually does not take less than 45 min in each direction) experienced a more stressed life-style than did "non commuters" (whose journey does not take more than 20 min). Commuting appears for many workers to be a necessity which is imposed by external factors, such as the housing market and job opportunities. Commuting is shown to interfere with patterns of everyday life by restricting free-time and reducing sleeping time. A majority of commuters use public transport mainly because of cost. Public transport commuters have problems due to more changes between modes, idle waiting times and delays leading to late arrival at work. Inside transport modes, commuters suffered discomfort as a result of overcrowding, microclimatic conditions, noise and vibrations. Commuters also reported higher psychological stress scores, more health complaints, essentially of psychosomatic nature, and greater absenteeism from work due to sickness. Commuting, in addition to shiftwork, further increases sleep problems, psychosomatic complaints and difficulties with family and social life. Women commuters were at a greater disadvantage than men, having more family difficulties, more travelling complaints and higher absenteeism.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Employment / trends*
  • Female
  • Headache / epidemiology
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Physiological / etiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Transportation*