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The effect of travel modes on children’s mental health, cognitive and social development: a systematic review

What do we want to know?

Children travel to school using a variety of methods, such as walking, bicycling, bus, car and others.  On the way to school, they encounter a wide variety of experiences which may affect their learning, social skills or mental health status.  The purpose of this review is to establish what research is available on the effect of modes of travel on children's mental health and cognitive and social development, and the potential for further research.

The DETR; policy-makers; school leadership team.

What did we find?  

The studies identified are described, but without a very detailed investigation of the findings or quality of the research.  Areas covered by the study include: physical activity; children's environment; diet; social experiences; cognitive experiences; issues of safety skills and car ownership; effects of mode of travel to school; effects of mass use of different modes of travel.

What are the implications?

Detailed recommendations for further research are made.

How did we get these results?

Thirty-nine studies are included in the detailed review.  As they cover a number of different aspects of travel, there are few studies on each component area.

This summary was prepared by the EPPI Centre

This report should be cited as: Gough D, Oliver S, Brunton G, Selai C, Schaumberg H (2001) The effect of travel modes on children’s mental health, cognitive and social development; a systematic review. London: EPPI Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

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