02 May 2019
Transport providers need to pay more attention to the difficulties people with mental health problems can have in using their services.
That was the conclusion of research being presented at our annual conference this week by Rebecca Posner from the Transport Research Laboratory.
For her research, BPS member Rebecca Posner carried out a survey and assembled a focus group of members of the public who had experienced anxiety or depression to better understand the impact these conditions had on transport choices.
She used these findings to design a large-scale choice-experiment survey which asked people who had experienced mental health problems to choose from a variety of ways of making a journey between two towns.
Six factors that might affect their decision - time, cost, potential for delays, number of changes and level of crowding - were changed for some participants to see what effect it had.
Analysis of the results showed that an increase in any of these factors made people who had experienced anxiety or depression more likely to travel by car than by bus or train. An initial decision to travel by train was particularly likely to be changed if any of the factors was worsened.
This effect was much stronger than it was when a control group of people who had not experienced anxiety or depression took part in the same study.
Those experiencing anxiety or depression reported a number of factors that influenced their travel mode choice and could be barriers to using active or more sustainable modes of transport (including public transport, trains and active travel modes).
The barriers include accessibility, convenience, crowding, time pressure, absence of control and absence of support, particularly on public transport and trains.
Rebecca Posner said:
“Our research highlights the work needed to improve our transport systems to make them more accessible, support people with mental health difficulties and minimise the negative impacts that they can have on those difficulties.”
She proposed a number of possible solutions, including:
She also suggested research into the role that mental health difficulties may play in the uptake of driverless cars and how they could be designed to meet the needs of those with those difficulties.