The social and physical workplace environment and commute mode: A natural experimental study.
Preventive medicine reports 2020 ; 20: 101260.
PubMed ID : 33318886
PMCID : PMC7723790
Despite strong evidence for health benefits from active travel, levels remain low in many countries. Changes to the physical and social workplace environment might encourage active travel but evaluation has been limited. We explored associations between changes in the physical and social workplace environment and changes in commute mode over one year among 419 participants in the Commuting and Health in Cambridge study. In adjusted analyses, an increase in the presence of one physical characteristic (e.g. bicycle parking or shower facilities) was associated with a 3.3% (95% confidence interval 1.0-5.6) reduction in the proportion of commutes by private motor vehicle and a 4.4% (95% CI 1.2-7.7) increase in the proportion of trips including active modes among men. These associations were not seen in women. A change to a more favourable social environment for walking or cycling among workplace management was associated with an increased proportion of commutes including active modes in women (4.5%, 95% CI 1.4-7.5) but not men. However, in both genders a change to more a favourable social environment for cycling among colleagues was associated with a reduced proportion of commutes by exclusively active modes (-2.8%, 95% CI -5.0 to -0.6). This study provides longitudinal evidence for gender differences in the associations between workplace environment and commute mode. A more supportive physical environment was associated with more active commuting in men, while the social environment appeared to have more complex associations that were stronger among women.