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J Clin Epidemiol. 2001 Feb;54(2):121-6.

A prospective study of morbidity and mortality rates among farmers and rural and urban nonfarmers.

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  • 1Uppsala University, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Clinical Epidemiology Section, University Hospital, 751 85, Uppsala, Sweden.


Farmers are known to have lower morbidity and mortality rates than the mean for other occupational groups in the general population. Whether this is due to the urban-rural health gradient or to occupational factors related to farming is not clear. To explore this issue, we conducted a prospective study of farmers and matched rural and urban referents. Official hospital admission and mortality data for the years 1989-1996 were obtained. The relative risk of being admitted to hospital were 10% higher among rural and urban referents than among the farmers. The biggest differences were seen for mental and cardiovascular disorders. The odds of dying during follow-up did not differ between the two rural groups but were doubled among urban referents. In conclusion, the lower morbidity and mortality rates among farmers are partly due to the urban-rural health gradient but in addition salutogenic factors linked to farming seem to be active.

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