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Med J Aust. 1990 Nov 5;153(9):518-21.

Suicide and related deaths in Victorian doctors.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, St Vincent's Hospital, Fitzroy, Vic.


A cohort of University of Melbourne medical graduates (1950-1959 graduates inclusive) was followed up until December 31, 1986. Vital status at the end of the study period was ascertained and, for those who had died, cause of death was determined. The cohort consisted of 1453 members (1279 men and 174 women). One hundred and twenty-six of the group had died (115 men and 11 women) and 68 (4.7%; 57 men and 11 women) were lost to follow-up. The major causes of death were cardiovascular disease and malignant neoplasms. The standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) for all-cause mortality were low (59 for the male doctors and 84 for the female doctors) indicating that male doctors experience a "force of mortality" 59% that of the general population and female doctors 84%. For the male doctors, the SMR for suicide was 113 (95% confidence interval [CI], 54-207) (10 of 115 deaths in male doctors) about double the SMR for mortality from all causes. For the female doctors, the SMR for suicide was 501 (95% CI, 103-1500) (3 of 11 deaths in female doctors). For deaths resulting from all accidents the SMR was low for the males (29) and higher for the females (126). The SMR for mental disorders for the male doctors was marginally raised (132). This study reveals some indication of a problem in doctors in regard to deaths by suicide, other violent deaths and mental disorders. A larger study involving a control group of equivalent social class is required to confirm the findings of this study.

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