#PHTwitJC 19: New Roads and Human Health

On Tuesday 23 October at 8.00 pm BST (UK time) we will be discussing this paper:

M Egan, M Petticrew, D Ogilvie and V Hamilton (2003) New Roads and Human Health: A Systematic Review, American Journal of Public Health, September 2003, Vol 93, No. 9

All are welcome to join the discussion at the Twitter Hashtag #PHTwitJC. If you have not joined a Twitter chat before, please see the ‘about’ tab above for some tips.

The Issue: Transport and Health

The impact of transport on health can be both direct, indirect, positive and negative. The direct and indirect impact of transport systems include levels of physical activity, obesity, noise, economic development, enabling access and social cohesion.

Some of the negative impacts of transport are well recognised, for example poor air quality and road crashes, both of which contribute significantly to the number of preventable deaths, hospitalisations and other health costs. Balancing these health impacts from transport against other factors such as economic development and regional growth, can be challenging.

Paper Summary:

This systematic review identified and critically appraised 32 observational studies which reported on the health effects of new road constructions. The review suggested that out-of-town bypasses decrease injuries on main roads through or around towns, although more robust evidence is needed on effects on secondary roads. New major urban roads have statistically insignificant effects on injury incidence. New major roads between towns decrease injuries. Out-of-town bypasses reduce disturbance and community severance in towns but increase them elsewhere. Major urban roads increase disturbance and severance. The authors concluded that more robust research is needed in this area, particularly regarding effects of new roads on respiratory health, mental health, access to health services, and physical activity.

Discussion points:

  1. Were the aims of this study clear? (consider the population, outcome measures, intervention)
  2. Was the systematic review comprehensive? (consider research designs included, inclusion and exclusion criteria, would all relevant studies have been identified?)
  3. Were any adjustments made for study size or quality? (if appropriate)
  4. Do you believe the results? Could anything else explain these findings? (Consider whether the results are due to chance, bias, confounding or the truth?)
  5. What implications do the findings have for public health practice & policy?


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