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Original research
Commuting time to work and behaviour-related health: a fixed-effect analysis
  1. Jaana I Halonen1,2,
  2. Anna Pulakka3,4,5,
  3. Jussi Vahtera3,4,
  4. Jaana Pentti3,4,
  5. Hanna Laström3,4,
  6. Sari Stenholm3,4,
  7. Linda Magnusson Hanson1
  1. 1 Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2 Health Security, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
  3. 3 Department of Public Health, Turun Yliopisto, Turku, Finland
  4. 4 Population Research Center, University of Turku and Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland
  5. 5 The Public Health Promotion Unit, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jaana I Halonen, Health Security, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki 00271, Finland; Jaana.Halonen{at}


Objectives Long commuting times are linked to poor health outcomes, but the evidence is mainly cross-sectional. We examined longitudinal within-individual associations between commuting time and behaviour-related health.

Methods Data were from the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health study. We selected workers who responded to a minimum of two surveys conducted every other year between 2008 and 2018. We included all study waves with self-reported commuting time (ie, the exposure, 1–5, 6–10, 11–15 or ≥15 hours/week), body mass index (based on weight and height), physical (in)activity, smoking, alcohol use and sleep problems (ie, the outcomes) (Nindividuals=20 376, Nobservations=46 169). We used conditional logistic regression for fixed effects analyses that controls for time-varying confounders by design. Analyses were stratified by working hours: normal (30–40 hours/week) or longer than normal (>40 hours/week) and adjusted for time dependent covariates: age, marital status, occupational position, presence of children, chronic disease, depressive symptoms, job strain and shift work.

Results Those working >40 hours/week had higher odds of physical inactivity (OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.51) and sleep problems (OR 1.16, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.35) when they were commuting >5 hours/week than when they were commuting 1–5 hours/week. Among women working normal hours, longer commuting time associated with lower odds of problem drinking.

Conclusion Our findings suggest that lengthy commuting time increases the risk of physical inactivity and sleep problems if individuals have longer than normal weekly working hours. Effects of work arrangements that decrease commuting time should be examined in relation to health behaviours.

  • body mass index
  • commuting
  • smoking
  • sleep problem
  • physical activity

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  • Contributors JIH, AP, JP, JV, HL, SS and LLMH conceived and designed the experiments, JIH analysed the data, LLMH contributed materials and/or analysis tools. JIH and SS contributed to the funding of the study. All authors were involved in writing the paper and approved the submitted version. JIH is the guarantor for this work. The corresponding author attests that all listed authors meet authorship criteria and that no others meeting the criteria have been omitted.

  • Funding This study was supported by Forte - Forskningsrådet för hälsa, arbetsliv och välfärd (project 2018-00479), Academy of Finland (projects 286294 and 294154 for SS) and Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the Regional Research Ethics Board in Stockholm (2006/158-31, 2008/240-32, 2010/0145-32, 2012/373-31/5, 2013/2173-32 and 2015/2187-32).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request. Requests for data can be addressed to the SLOSH data manager