Road traffic noise exposure and depression/anxiety: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis

Angel M. Dzhambov*, Peter Lercher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Unlike other World Health Organization evidence reviews, the systematic review on mental disorders could not provide a quantitative estimate of the effect of environmental noise. With that in mind, we aimed to update it with additional studies published through to 18 August 2019 in order to allow for a formal meta-analysis of the association of residential road traffic noise with anxiety and depression. The quality effects and random effects estimators were used for meta-analysis and the robustness of findings was tested in several sensitivity analyses. Ten studies were included in the qualitative synthesis, from which we extracted 15 estimates for depression (n = 1,201,168) and five for anxiety (n = 372,079). Almost all studies were cross-sectional and the risk of bias in them was generally high. We found 4% (95% CI: −3%, 11%) higher odds of depression and 12% (95% CI: −4%, 30%) of anxiety associated with a 10 dB(A) increase in day–evening–night noise level (Lden). Both models suffered from moderate heterogeneity (55% and 54%), but there was evidence of publication bias only in the depression model. These findings were robust with no evidence of study-level moderators. A sensitivity analysis on an alternative set of categorically-reported estimates supported a linear relationship between Lden and depression. Taking into account an overall quality assessment for the included studies, we conclude that there is evidence of “very low” quality that increasing exposure to road traffic noise may be associated with depression and anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4134
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Environmental noise
  • Mental disorders
  • Mental health
  • Transportation noise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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