4 July 2015

Does active commuting improve psychological wellbeing?

Does active commuting improve psychological wellbeing?
Longitudinal evidence from eighteen waves of the British Household Panel Survey

Adam Martin, Yevgeniy Goryakin, Marc Suhrcke



The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between active travel and psychological wellbeing.

  • Impact of commuting behaviour on wellbeing was explored using individual fixed effects analyses.
  • Compared to driving, wellbeing was higher when using active travel or public transport.
  • Use of active travel reduced the likelihood of two specific GHQ12 psychological symptoms.
  • Switching from car driving to active travel improved wellbeing.
  • Wellbeing increased with travel time for walkers, but decreased for drivers.


The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between active travel and psychological wellbeing.


This study used data on 17,985 adult commuters in eighteen waves of the British Household Panel Survey (1991/2–2008/9). Fixed effects regression models were used to investigate how travel mode choice, commuting time and switching to  active travel impacted on overall psychological wellbeing and how (iv.) travel mode choice impacted on specific psychological symptoms included in the General Health Questionnaire.


After accounting for changes in individual-level socioeconomic characteristics and potential confounding variables relating to work, residence and health, significant associations were observed between overall psychological wellbeing (on a 36-point Likert scale) and (i.) active travel (0.185, 95% CI: 0.048 to 0.321) and public transport (0.195, 95% CI: 0.035 to 0.355) when compared to car travel, (ii.) time spent (per 10 minute change) walking (0.083, 95% CI: 0.003 to 0.163) and driving (−0.033, 95% CI: −0.064 to −0.001), and (iii.) switching from car travel to active travel (0.479, 95% CI: 0.199 to 0.758). Active travel was also associated with reductions in the odds of experiencing two specific psychological symptoms when compared to car travel.


The positive psychological wellbeing effects identified in this study should be considered in cost–benefit assessments of interventions seeking to promote active travel

Full article click here (Open Access)

Original source  Michael Evans

9 June 2015

Presentations from the Health in all Policies New Zealand Conference 2015

For those of us who could not make it to New Zealand below is the next best thing, pdfs of the conference programme and the main presentations.
Health in all Policies New Zealand Conference 2015 Programme
What is Health in All Policies?
Rob Quigley
Sugary Drinks and Public Policy
Dr Rob Beaglehole
Human Rights and HIA
Dr Fiona Haigh (University of New South Wales, Australia)
Health impact assessment (HIA) and human rights both contribute to the promotion of physical and mental health and wellbeing. Human rights provide an ethical and legal framework, while HIA provides evidence-based methods and tools, derived from social and natural sciences, for policy evaluation. Scholars have proposed that international human rights laws and standards provide a legally binding and morally compelling framework for
HIA. Several human rights monitoring mechanisms – including the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health – have called on governments to perform human rights-based impact assessments. It has been hypothesized that HIA can provide a well established evidence based (scientific) method to systematically and transparently assess impacts on the right to health; while human rights contribute a legally binding and morally compelling framework that allows governments and governmental agencies to be held accountable drawing attention to the legal and policy context within which health interventions occur. Despite increasing attention given to human rights and health by policy makers and researchers little has been achieved to date when it comes to integrating human rights considerations into HIA work. Thus, there are few methodologies and tools developed to identify and trace the context specific pathways between a policy, human rights and health outcomes; explain why relationships between these exist or what 'mechanisms' might account for them. In the absence of such explanations it is difficult to decide 'what to do' to improve human rights and health outcomes.
This presentation explores integrating human rights into Health Impact Assessment (HIA) methodology. In particular we report on research examining the fit between HIA and human rights, how HRHIA could work and what are the implications of integrating human rights into Health Impact Assessment (HIA) methodology.
Pegasus Health the Evolution of Primary Care and Health in All Policies
Emeritus Professor Andrew Hornblow
Trading Away Health: A Health Impact Assessment of the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement
Dr Patrick Harris and Fiona Haigh
Good policy-making requires good science
Professor Sir Peter Gluckman
Relationships are the currency of the future
Ana Apatu and Henare O’Keefe
Introduction: Where to now
Mary Richardson
Mind the Gap
Associate Professor Susan Morton
A Canterbury That’s More Than Just All Right...
Dr Lucy D'Aeth
Te Ara Mua Future Streets: Engaging Communities and Challenging Polices
Dr Adrian Field and Dr Alex Macmillan
Over half of the world’s population and three quarters of OECD residents now live in cities. In the last century, New Zealand’s towns and urban areas grew seven-fold while the rural population grew very little. Cities in New Zealand and internationally are at the frontline of addressing public health and environmental sustainability. Concerted and integrated responses from planning, urban design and public health are key to securing an urban form the meets the challenges of cities in the 21st century.
Transport infrastructure poses a particular challenge, where the dominant paradigm often has the private car as is its centrepiece. Transport infrastructure investments also emphasise economic and safety gains while largely ignoring other public health, social and environmental impacts, including impacts on social and health equity. The ideas and thinking that have shaped transport infrastructure have contributed to such global health problems as obesity and social dislocation.
Interventions to re-shape or retrofit existing urban communities can have multiple co-benefits for social, physical, economic and environmental wellbeing, and increasing community resilience to expected future threats. Creating urban form for people rather than cars, improves people’s health, improves perceptions of safety, improves opportunities for physical activity and helps slow the growth of long-term conditions.
Te Ara Mua – Future Streets is a mixed methods intervention study of suburb-wide street changes aimed at making cycling and walking safer and more attractive in Mangere, Auckland.
The project, led by a consortium of universities and consultancies, in partnership with Auckland Transport and New Zealand Transport Agency, brings in leading international thinking in street design, allied with an intensive participatory design process. Te Ara Mua will offer new approaches to design, apply a participatory engagement approach in which knowledge is shared, and look to challenge the ways in which the costs and benefits of street infrastructure are measured, and how these in turn inform policy.
This pecha kucha presentation highlights the contribution that the Te Ara Mua – Future Streets project makes to applying Health In All Policies philosophy at a local level, in a way that challenges established thinking in urban form.
Economic Perspectives on Health in All Policies
Professor Paul Dalziel
The Cancer Society: Long Term Plans, Pathway to Smokefree New Zealand by 2025
Martin Witt and Amanda Dodd
Video component of the presentation by Martin Witt and Amanda Dodd
As a community based organisation, the Cancer Society has anestablished a suite of health promotion programmes designed to raise awareness of lifestyle and cancer risk. Over the last five years the organisation has placed a focus the role of public policy can play in achieving positive health outcomes for our communities. In particular our tobacco control work has placed importance on partnerships with local authorities and other key partners, to facilitate creation of smokefree community spaces. As key steps toward achieving the Smokefree Aotearoa goal by 2025 extending the scope of these policies to go beyond the “greenspace” is essential. Public support for more Smokefree community spaces is strong and there are encouraging signs that other key stakeholders such as businesses are open to further discussions but what do councils think?
With ten years to go to the goal, it is significant that councils are now developing their Long Term Plans [LTP] for the same period offering a timely opportunity for current partnerships to be strengthened. This presentation will outline how the Cancer Society is supporting a Health in All Policies approach, working in partnership to frame the need for councils to demonstrate commitment and leadership in helping ensure that New Zealand does indeed achieve its goal to be Smokefree by 2025. The presentation will address how criteria have been developed to assess the extent to which councils acknowledge their role in promoting Smokefree policy and
how this might develop over the next few years. Council responses to submissions will be evaluated against these criteria.
Although there are examples of councils already demonstrating strategies consistent with the 2025 goal, most notably Auckland and Palmerston North , there need to be much stronger signs that other councils recognise the significance of their role; a role that does not mean a large financial commitment. LTP are by their nature based on the use of limited resources, however they are also open to public consultation and intended to be an outline of all council activities that help make communities safe places to live work and play in. Failure to engage councils in the 2025 goal as part of their LTP’s in 2015 would seem to be inconsistent with that intention.
Transport and Health in All Policies
Dr Alex Macmillan
Transport policy has a strong and complex influence on population health, social and health equity, and environmental sustainability, which underpins human health. Currently in New Zealand, transport policy objectives are heavily focused on supporting economic growth through congestion reduction and freight movement, while addressing road traffic injury. Although some attempts have been made to incorporate wider public health objectives into transport planning more recently, these have been hampered by knowledge, skills, institutional and ideological barriers. Using more than a decade of experience with influencing transport policy using an arsenal of approaches, I will explore how successful this influence has been and the factors underpinning more and less successful influence. I will also draw together some insights from this experience for Health in all Policies more generally.
View the presentations from the Reflective Practice Day on 30th April 2015

Original Source: Healthy Christchurch

29 May 2015

Free Webinar - Building Bridges between Transportation and Health

Building Bridges between Transportation and Health

Meeting Description:

This webinar will discuss the connection between transportation and health and give insight into the specific process one community used to fund programs and how the programs are implemented from start to finish. It will also highlight how advocacy and community organizing are used to move projects forward.

To register click here

Wed, Jun 3, 2015

02:00 PM EDT

1 hour

American Public Health Association

Moderator:  Megan Wier, MPH
(Lead Staff, Health, Transportation and Equity at San Francisco Department of Public Health)


Leslie Meehan, AICP
(Director of Healthy Communities, Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization)

Leslie will provide an overview of the process used to incorporate health into transportation planning, policy, funding, data collection and measurement in the greater Nashville region.  She will provide information on how the MPO evaluates and prioritizes projects by health and equity, and how health data is used to predict population-level changes in health outcomes from increased active travel.

Scott Bricker
(Executive Director, America Walks)
Scott will discuss advocacy and community organizing as tools to move projects forward. He will provide examples of communities that have improved walkability and active transportation through organized efforts.

23 April 2015

Why was NIAP so Successful?


Key URL for documents published by NIAP:

What were the important drivers for success?
Funded posts in EPA and Planning Division at local government level to support and help coordinate the relationships and the work of the programme.
Devolution was an important driver as states had to put a policies, guidance and system in place.
Environmental, social and economic problems were also drivers.
The legal and procedures are in place but too early to say how it is working. Anecdotal evidence that yes it is being used. This is likely to be because of the way the material was developed, co-production.
A new generation of young professionals.

BUT some things didn't work e.g. establishing a professional association. 

Transboundary gas pipeline

Learned a lot more than perhaps I taught to Pakistan gas pipeline and environmental professionals. In that sense. a humbling experience.

Range of Transboundary Pipelines

Get the route right and everything else is much easier.

Some EIAs can be too early! 

Often common sense needed. For example the photo above shows a concrete barrier in the middle of a road that cuts across a tortoise migration route.

EIA Guidance for Coal Fired Power Plants

Need to understand the context of Pakistan before the guidance was developed. Portugal is 45th in GDP rankings and Pakistan is 46th but Portugal has only 10 million people compared to 190 million people.

FIRST key question that we asked was why is guidance needed.

Energy scarcity is such that focus was on distribution the limiters energy and that any thing is acceptable anywhere to bring more energy production online. This has generated concern on air pollution.

Water scarcity is also a big issues.

Three different power plant projects being  considered.

Key concern was engaging with communities and stakeholders so that there was ownership of guidance.

Very diverse culture and landscape.

Very complex and complicated country.

Lack of strategic thinking. An SEA of the energy sector or if coal fired power plants is a critical need.

In Pakistan there were 'two' governance and the governance of everything else. Environmental governance is not integrated. So people in environmental governance are strong on environmental protection but the other parts of government are not.

An IAIA Affiliate may be an important way of contouring the work that has already been undertaken.

NIAP EIA Handbook and EIA curriculum for Pakistan

EIA Curriculum challenges in Pakistan were similar to those found in other countries around the world.

National Impact Assessment Program in Pakistan: outcomes and lessons

A range of partners have been involved in supporting EIA system in Pakistan.

Towards a definition of HIA in Italy

HIA implementation at a regional level in Austria

Developed a HIA Action Plan

Then a HIA Development Unit was set up.


Three fold methodology


Leading from the front: HIA in Wales

Devolved government and a focus on health and wellbeing, inequalities, sustainable development...

High levels of poor health in Wales.

Health in All Polices and HIAS by 'stealth' where there is mix of healthy lifestyles priorities alongside HiAP and HIA.

HiAP guidance being developed to operationalise the aims of Future Generations legislation.

BUT will need to monitor and evaluate the success of the bill and guidance.

22 April 2015

Cross-country comparison of quality control in EA

No quality control or assurance instruments implemented in Germany.

Wanted to see what was happening elsewhere.

What are the international trends in EIA and SEA.

4 key words 4 country case studies.





Concluding Questions:

Social determinants of risk perception

Risk perceptions can be biased
Literature review
5 models
Mitigation measures are distorted

Integrated ESHIA often use a risk assessment that categorises impacts in terms of likelihood, severity and significance.
Expert group consensus or judgement is used to determine these aspects.
But is this biased by risk perception.

Can see risk perception as unstable and can move from being amplified to attenuated easy.

Climate change is not seen as a risk but fracking is though experts might say that this should be the other way round.

Information deficit: is IA focused on this when feelings is more important.

Psychometric model
Voluntary vs involuntary

Risk benefit calculation
Economic rationality

Affective vs Analytic thinking
Cognitive biases

Cultural world view
Status anxiety
"White male effects"

Implications are that there are 'merchants of doubt' and 'merchants of fear'.

Expert's risk perception can bias impact assessment.
Need to understand this.