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Description: Commuting has been framed as a demand with potential implications for employee strain and wellbeing. Research on commuting demands has accumulated across various disciplines; however, this has led to a narrow research scope with wide methodological variability. A systematic integration of this literature is needed to better understand the breadth of the commuting experience, extend the research scope to positive aspects of commuting, interpret heterogeneous findings, and guide future research and practice. Drawing from the transactional stress model, we propose that commuting is an objective demand that can have both negative and positive effects on outcomes through unfavorable and favorable subjective commuting appraisals, respectively. We present a broad systematic review (i.e., based on 109 studies) and a more focused supporting meta-analysis (i.e., based on 39 studies) of commuting demands and appraisals and their relationships with various strain and wellbeing outcomes. Our systematic review finds partial support for our hypotheses concerning the relationships between objective commuting demands, subjective commuting appraisals, and strain and wellbeing outcomes. The results of our meta-analysis suggest that objective commuting demands (i.e., time spent commuting) are positively associated with strain outcomes (rrxy= .081), and especially perceived stress (rxy = .142), but unrelated to wellbeing outcomes. Subjective commuting appraisals are unrelated to strain and wellbeing outcomes. Across these analyses, there is a great deal of heterogeneity present in the estimates, reflecting the varied nature of the commuting literature. We conclude by outlining implications for future research, including recommendations for methodological improvements and practice.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International


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