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Study links frequent work travel to anxiety, sleep disorders

More focus needed on behavioral, metal health consequences of business travel

Posted January 15, 2018

A study conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and City University of New York found that frequent business travelers may have more anxiety and depression than their home-based coworkers. The study is one of the first to report the effects of business travel on non-infectious disease health risks.

The research found behavior and mental health problems increased significantly as the number of nights away from home rose. People who travel for business two weeks or more a month are more likely to:

  • Experience anxiety and depression,
  • Smoke,
  • Be sedentary, and
  • Report trouble sleeping.

For those travelers who drink alcohol, frequent business travel is linked to symptoms of alcohol dependence.

According to Andrew Rundle, DrPH, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, there is growing evidence linking extensive business travel and the risk of chronic diseases associated with lifestyle factors. Rundle says, “The field of occupational travel medicine needs to expand beyond its current focus of infectious disease, cardiovascular disease risks, violence, and injury to bring more focus to the behavioral and metal health consequences of business travel.”

Rundle recommends employers and employees consider new approaches to improving employee health during business trips. These approaches should go beyond the standard travel health practices of providing immunizations and medical evacuation services.

The results of the study were published online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

J. J. Keller Safety Management SuiteThe J. J. Keller® Safety Management Suite, formerly KellerOnline®, provides safety professionals with the tools and applications to help drive performance, reduce risk, and ensure compliance.


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