BTN's readers will benefit
from a different take on a key implication raised by Dr.
Rundle in this op-ed:
I agree that mental and
physical health are important issues for road warriors and that high volumes
of travel are correlated with a number of poor wellness indicators. Traveler
wellness is an increasingly important issue, and Dr. Rundle's article gives
excellent advice for improving traveler health and wellness.
However, I offer a different
view about the correlation between nights away and scores for anxiety and
depression, or A&D.
ARC and tClara are sponsoring
a forthcoming study of 742 U.S.-based road warriors. Road warriors are defined
as those with at least four business trips, mostly by plane, and at least 35
nights away in the last 12 months. This study's data show a weak negative correlation
between nights away and A&D scores. So where Dr. Rundle's data shows that
more nights away is positively correlated with—i.e., may be a cause of—higher
A&D scores, our data shows the opposite.
We do see a strong correlation
between age and mental health scores. The A&D scores are lowest
(healthiest) for the oldest cohort, age 55-66, and rise, get worse, as the
cohort age decreases. The average number of nights away increases slightly with
the mean age of each cohort. This suggests that age is a much more important
predictor of A&D scores than are nights away.
Age A&D Score* Avg. Nights Away Last
*Editor's note: The oldest cohort with the lowest raw A&D score was used as a baseline. A&D scores for the remaining cohorts were calculated relative to that baseline
It's worth noting some
significant differences between Dr. Rundle's study and ours. His study
focuses on business travelers regardless of transportation mode, and presumably
includes a large percentage of road warriors who drive rather than fly. It is
also based on a much, much larger number of respondents. His study uses
the cut points of 14 to 20 nights away per month and 21 or more nights away per
month. Our study uses the cut points of 35 to 50, 51 to 85 and more than 86
nights away per year. I believe both studies use the same four questions to
obtain scores for A&D indicators; our study uses a slightly different
weighting scheme to calculate the scores.
The 2015 ARC Trip Friction
database of 109,000 randomly drawn anonymous business travelers, all based on
ticketed airline itineraries, shows that those who travel at least 14 nights
away per month (168 nights per year) represent 4/10ths of one percent of
business travelers who traveled by air. Those who travel 21 nights a month or
more (over 252 nights per year) represent 4/100ths of one percent of all such
business travelers. While understanding the effects of extreme levels of
business travel may well lead to useful insights, travel managers may be better
served by understanding the impacts of business travel on more typical groups
Our forthcoming study will
provide more insights about the relationships between travel and road warrior
wellness; trip success, attrition risk and desire to travel. It should significantly
advance the quantification of these important topics.