Date of Award
Master of Public Administration (MPA)
This purpose of this study is to investigate whether carpooling to/from work reduces stress levels in adults. Many people (including the investigator) have long commutes to/from work everyday. Long commutes are not only costly, but they are also very stressful. The reason for conducting this research study is to make adults aware that there are carpooling options available. Many adults may not realize the many benefits of carpooling to/from work. Decision makers at many organizations may also not encourage employees to carpool because they do not realize the benefits of carpooling. Decision makers may not realize that by having employees arrive at work less anxious and less stressed, the employees will be in a better mood and will be more productive. Also, the employee may be more satisfied with his/her job. Therefore, the research question is: Does carpooling to/from work reduce stress? The investigator had this idea because she also has a long commute to/from work and many of her co-workers do as well. The investigator believes that if more commuters know there are carpooling options available to fit their particular schedule, more of them would be willing to carpool. Carpooling not only saves money, but it also improves the environment by not having as many cars on the road. The investigator compiled the answers from the questionnaires and compared the answers to the current research findings on this subject. This helped the investigator determine if commuters are interested in carpooling and if they know the benefits of carpooling.
In this study, the investigator visited local businesses in the office park where she is employed as well as three small businesses in the Woodstock/Kennesaw area. After explaining the research project and asking the Human Resources Director (hereinafter referred to as the HR Director) if his/her company is interested in participating, the investigator gave the HR Directors enough cover letters and questionnaires for each employee in the company. The HR Directors at the participant’s place of employment distributed the cover letter and questionnaire in all employee mailboxes (those that were over 18 years of age.) The participant was supposed to return the completed questionnaire to the HR Director by the deadline listed on the cover letter (i.e., October 15, 2008). The investigator then collected the completed questionnaires from the HR Directors by a specified date (i.e., October 21, 2008). If a participant did not wish to participate, he/she could simply discard the questionnaire. All responses remained completely anonymous. The investigator promised to distribute the findings of the study to all interested HR Directors by a specified date. The investigator suggested to the HR Director that he/she should share the results with others in the company (regardless of whether they completed the questionnaire).
Of the 350 questionnaires that were distributed to the businesses, 212 were completed and returned, resulting in a response rate of 61 percent. Of the 212 participants, 187 of them use their personal vehicles to get to/from work and 19 of them carpool/vanpool. Most of the participants indicated that their commute from home to work is between 11 to 15 miles. Unfortunately, 78 of the participants indicated that their commuting time takes between 31 to 60 minutes to get from home to work on a typical day. The 212 participants consisted of 122 females and 90 males. Of the 212 participants, 97 were between the ages of 29 to 39 years old. Only four participants were 62 or older. (A statement was included on the questionnaire and cover letter that stated no one under 18 years old was allowed to complete the questionnaire.) When asked about their highest level of education, participants responded as follows: three attended high school, but did not graduate, 66 were high school graduates, 95 had bachelors or associates degrees, 41 had masters or graduate degrees, three had doctorate degrees and four participants responded “other.”
The questionnaire included a series of questions which asked the participant if he/she had considered carpooling for the following reasons: to save money, to improve the environment, to meet new people, and to reduce stress. The results of these questions are as follows: 109 said they had not considered carpooling to/from work to save money, 106 had not considered carpooling to improve the environment, 169 had not considered carpooling to meet new people, and 131 had not considered carpooling to reduce stress. The next question asked the participant if he/she was more likely to consider carpooling to/from work knowing that research suggests it saves money, improves the environment and reduces stress. Surprisingly, 78 people answered “yes,” 77 answered “no,” and the other 57 participants were not sure.
Results of this study are discussed as well as the strengths/limitations and suggestions for future research. The primary objective of this study is to determine if research findings support the idea that carpooling to/from work reduces stress and to see approximately how many people are actually carpooling. The investigator commutes approximately 22 miles one way to work. On her way to work it takes her approximately 30 minutes, but on the way home the commute time is usually between 45 to 60 minutes. The results of this study were a bit surprising to the investigator. She expected participants to have much higher stress levels due to their commutes since very few of them carpool. At the investigator’s own place of employment she often hears conversations in the break room and hallway regarding how terrible the morning commute was because of an accident or the weather. The investigator hopes the participants, as well as the HR Directors will find the results of this study useful.