Do you travel for business assignments for two weeks or more in a month? According to a study, such people are more likely to suffer from symptoms of anxiety and depression and are also likely to smoke, be sedentary and have trouble sleeping. The findings showed that poor behavioural and mental health outcomes significantly increased as the number of nights away from home for business travel rose. Among those who consume alcohol, extensive business travel was associated with symptoms of alcohol dependence. “Although business travel can be seen as a job benefit and can lead to occupational advancement, there is a growing literature showing that extensive business travel is associated with risk of chronic diseases associated with lifestyle factors,” said Andrew Rundle, Associate Professor at the Columbia University.
“The field of occupational travel medicine needs to expand beyond its current focus on infectious disease, cardiovascular disease risks, violence and injury to bring more focus to the behavioural and mental health consequences of business travel,” Rundle added. Previous research showed that extensive business travel was associated with higher body mass index, obesity, and higher blood pressure. For the study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the team checked health records of 18,328 employees who underwent a health assessment in 2015 through their corporate wellness work benefits programme. The results showed that mild or worse anxiety or depressive symptoms were common in this employee population. Employers and employees should consider new approaches to improve employee health during business trips that go beyond the typical travel health practice of providing immunisations and medical evacuation services, Rundle said.