Physical and mental health outcomes of public transport use among older adults: A systematic review

Omer Dilian, Caroline Beckers, Nadav Davidovitch, Karel Martens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Public transport has been shown to be related to several health benefits in the general population (e.g., due to increased physical activity and social participation), and holds an important role for older adults’ mobility, due to an age-related decline in the ability to use other transport modes. Even so, the health outcomes of public transport use are yet to be assessed systematically. Hence, the aim of this systematic review is to examine the potential effects of public transport use on the physical and mental health of older adults. Five electronic databases were searched in April 2023: Pubmed, Scopus, Web of Science, Ageline and Transport Research International Documentation. Included were studies that were in English, contained a measure of public transport use as exposure, and any health outcome, including mental or physical health, physical or cognitive function, morbidity, or mortality, among people aged ≥60 years. Of a total of 1790 unique records, the full text of 17 were assessed for eligibility and 11 were identified as eligible. Citation search identified two additional studies, amounting to a total of 13 included studies. Significant health outcomes described in assessed studies were decreased obesity and depressive symptoms, and to a lesser extent increased gait speed and cognitive function. Policymakers and practitioners should regard urban and transport planning as a potential tool for improving the health of older people. Initial evidence regarding obesity, depressive symptoms, gait and cognitive function call for further research assessing additional health outcomes and conducted in more diverse contexts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Transport Policy and Planning
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2024


  • Determinants of health
  • Mobility and health
  • Older adults
  • Public transport use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transportation


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