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Am J Prev Med. 2000 Oct;19(3):155-9.

Mortality rates and causes among U.S. physicians.

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Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3219, USA. EFRANK@FPM.EUSHC.ORG


CONTENT/OBJECTIVES: No recent national studies have been published on age at death and causes of death for U.S. physicians, and previous studies have had sampling limitations. Physician morbidity and mortality are of interest for several reasons, including the fact that physicians' personal health habits may affect their patient counseling practices.


Data in this report are from the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance database and are derived from deaths occurring in 28 states between 1984 and 1995. Occupation is coded according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census classification system, and cause of death is coded according to the ninth revision of the International Classification of Diseases.


Among both U.S. white and black men, physicians were, on average, older when they died, (73.0 years for white and 68.7 for black) than were lawyers (72.3 and 62.0), all examined professionals (70.9 and 65.3), and all men (70.3 and 63.6). The top ten causes of death for white male physicians were essentially the same as those of the general population, although they were more likely to die from cerebrovascular disease, accidents, and suicide, and less likely to die from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia/influenza, or liver disease than were other professional white men.


These findings should help to erase the myth of the unhealthy doctor. At least for men, mortality outcomes suggest that physicians make healthy personal choices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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