This study explores the interactions between the advantages of cycling for physical and mental health and possible health consequences of crash involvement. Data were derived from an online survey distributed via social media and cycling interest organisations and resulted in 382 responses from cyclists having crashed in the past two years and 855 non-crash cyclists.
Firstly, we compared the distress symptoms reported by non-crashed cyclists, all crashed cyclists, and crashed cyclists considering their crash severe. Secondly, we performed structural equation models (SEMs) to identify latent distress constructs and their relation to person characteristics, cycling habits and possible injuries. Lastly, we investigated the relation between the latent distress constructs and the perceived quality of life (QoL for each of the following subgroups: non-crash cyclists, crashed cyclists and the subgroup of cyclists considering their crash severe.
Our analyses show that the non-crash cyclists on average report more distress symptoms than the crashed cyclists. With the only significant difference between the cyclist groups being their cycling exposure (the crashed cyclists cycle significantly more) and gender, this result highlights the complex interaction between the positive health benefits of physical activity on one side and possible negative health impacts of crash involvement while being physically active on the other.
Three latent distress constructs were identified: “General stress & exhaustion”, “Depression & anxiety”, “Physical impairment”. “Depression & anxiety” and “Physical impairment” are directly and negatively related to the perceived QoL. “General stress & exhaustion” is directly and positively related to the perceived QoL. Several person characteristics, cycling habits and injuries are associated with the latent distress constructs. “Depression & anxiety” showed the strongest relation to a poorer perceived QoL among the crashed cyclists. This highlights the importance of not only considering the physical aspects of crash related injuries but also the potential psychological and mental aspects of suffering a crash.