Frequent business trips may up anxiety, sleep problems: study

NEW YORK: People who frequently travel for business are at an increased risk of anxiety and depression and are more likely to smoke, be sedentary and report trouble sleeping, according to a study.
Among those who consume alcohol, extensive business travel is associated with symptoms of alcohol dependence, the researchers said.
Poor behavioural and mental health outcomes significantly increased as the number of nights away from home for business travel rose, they said.
The study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, is one of the first to report the effects of business travel on non-infectious disease health risks.
“Although business travel can be seen as a job benefit and can lead to occupational advancement, there is a growing literature showing that extensive business travel is associated with risk of chronic diseases associated with lifestyle factors,” said Andrew Rundle, associate professor at Columbia University in the US.
The study was based on the de-identified health records of 18,328 employees who underwent a health assessment in 2015 through their corporate wellness work benefits programme provided by EHE International.
The EHE International health exam measured depressive symptoms with the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), anxiety symptoms with the Generalized Anxiety Scale (GAD-7) and alcohol dependence with the CAGE scale.
A score above 4 on the Generalized Anxiety Scale (GAD-7) was reported by 24 per cent of employees, and 15 per cent scored above a 4 on the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), indicating that mild or worse anxiety or depressive symptoms were common in this employee population.
Among those who consume alcohol, a CAGE score of 2 or higher indicates the presence of alcohol dependence and was found in 6 per cent of employees who drank.
GAD-7 and PHQ-9 scores and CAGE scores of 2 or higher increased with increasing nights away from home for business travel.
These data are consistent with analyses of medical claims data from World Bank employees which found that the largest increase in claims among their business travellers was for psychological disorders related to stress, researchers said.
Employers and employees should consider new approaches to improve employee health during business trips that go beyond the typical travel health practice of providing immunisations and medical evacuation services, according to Rundle.
“At the individual-level, employees who travel extensively need to take responsibility for the decisions they make around diet, exercise, alcohol consumption, and sleep,” he added. (AGENCIES)


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