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Soc Sci Med. 2004 Jul;59(2):405-14.

Traffic stress, vehicular burden and well-being: a multilevel analysis.

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Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, 1420 Washington Heights, Room M5224, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029, USA.


This study examined whether health is associated with individually perceived traffic stress and as well as ecologically measured vehicular burden using multi-level analysis. Data from the Chinese American psychiatric epidemiologic study (N = 1503) are linked to data from the 1990 Census in the United States. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to analyze the cross-sectional relationship between traffic stress, neighborhood conditions, depression and health status. Perceived traffic stress is associated with both general health status and depression in multivariate multilevel models, such that persons reporting traffic stress had lower health status and more depressive symptoms. Further, there is an interaction between vehicular burden and traffic stress for both health outcomes. Persons who lived in areas with greater vehicular burden and who reported the most traffic stress also had the lowest health status and greatest depressive symptoms. These findings suggest that traffic stress may represent an important factor that influences the well-being of urban populations, and that studies which examine factors at only one level (either individual level only or ecological level only) may underestimate the effect of the social environment.

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