Why is it important to do this research?
Little is known about the impact of large transport projects on people’s mental health and wellbeing and what we do know is mainly about transport projects once they are finished, focusing on people who use the new transport system. We know less about how the planning and construction of these projects may affect mental health and wellbeing, particularly for people who experience the inconvenience of planning and construction stages but do not benefit by using the transport system.
Without understanding how large transport projects might affect mental health and wellbeing it is difficult to know how to support people who live near them. HS2 is a good opportunity for learning about how these projects may affect mental health and wellbeing because phase 2 of the project is only just starting so different stages can be studied, and there will be people who are potentially affected by the route but are unlikely to use HS2 because there will be no station close to them.
What is the aim of this study?
The aim of this study is to understand how the High-Speed Rail 2 development (HS2), a large national transport project, might affect the mental health and wellbeing of people who live near the railway line. We are guided by four research questions:
- What are the positive and negative mental health and wellbeing impacts of HS2?
- Do these impacts change over time and what explains them?
- Are impacts felt differently across groups within a community?
- What are the health economic implications of the mental health and wellbeing impacts of HS2?
What are we doing as part of this study?
We will look at how HS2 may affect mental health and wellbeing over time from initial planning to the point where it is being used by passengers. We will do three things:
- survey people asking questions about their physical and mental health and wellbeing, including things that may affect this like having a job or good relationships with friends and family;
- group meetings and interviews with people who complete the survey and local GPs and nursing staff to discuss issues raised in the survey in more detail;
- analysis of anonymous information that GP practices provide to the government about the health and wellbeing of their patients.
We will do this multiple times during the development of HS2. This information will tell us whether the mental health and wellbeing of people living near HS2 changes over time (during planning, construction, and use), and we will compare this to changes in other communities that are very similar apart from not being near HS2. If changes over time are the same no matter how close people live to HS2 then this suggests it is not the cause of any changes.
What we learn from this study will contribute to the design and assessment of later phases of the HS2 scheme. Overall, this research will develop a new way of understanding how transport projects can affect people’s mental health and wellbeing and help to develop ways of supporting communities where these projects are built.
We will involve members of the public throughout this project. See our Public Involvement page for more information. You can also find more information about the project and how it is funded on our FAQ page.