Effect of commuting on the risk of COVID-19 and COVID-19-induced anxiety in Japan, December 2020

Arch Public Health. 2021 Dec 9;79(1):222. doi: 10.1186/s13690-021-00751-9.


Background: To prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), it is important to avoid 3Cs (closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings). However, the risk of contact with an unspecified number of people is inevitable while commuting to and from work. In this study, we investigated the relationship between commuting, and the risk of COVID-19 and COVID-19-induced anxiety.

Methods: An internet-based questionnaire survey was conducted to obtain a dataset from 27,036 respondents. One-way commuting time was evaluated using a five-case method. The commuting distance was estimated using zip codes of the home and workplace. Logistic regression analysis was performed with the following outcomes: COVID-19 risk, close contact, infection anxiety, and infection anxiety due to commuting. Commuting distance and commuting time were analyzed separately in the model. We excluded participants with incalculable commuting distance, commuting distance exceeding 300 km, commuting distance of 0 km, or who telecommuted at least once a week.

Results: The total number of participants included in the analysis was 14,038. The adjusted odds ratios (aORs) of using public transportation for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection were 4.17 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.51-6.93) (commuting time) and 5.18 (95% CI: 3.06-8.78) (commuting distance). The aOR of COVID-19 diagnosis decreased significantly with increasing commuting distance. The aORs of using public transportation to infection anxiety were 1.44 (95% CI: 1.31-1.59) (commuting time) and 1.45 (95% CI: 1.32-1.60) (commuting distance). The longer the commuting time, the more the aOR increased.

Conclusions: COVID-19 risk, close contact, and infection anxiety were all associated with the use of public transportation during commuting. Both commuting distance and time were associated with infection anxiety due to commuting, and the strength of the association increased with increase in commuting time distance. Since transportation by commuting is associated with COVID-19 risk and anxiety, we recommend the use of telecommuting and other means of work.

Keywords: COVID-19; Commute; Commuting distance; Commuting time; Public transportation.