There is a long history in both epidemiology and public health of studying the health and mortality risk of doctors, and the proposed study aims to continue this trend. This history includes the famous ‘Doctors Study’ (with Doll, Bradford-Hill and Peto) which ran from 1951 until 2001 and provided some of the original and most conclusive evidence linking cigarette smoking and lung cancer (and later heart disease and stroke).
Although doctors have considerably lower mortality risk than the general population, which is a combination of their higher socio-economic status and knowledge and practice of healthier lifestyles such as smoking avoidance, there are many aspects of medical life that are thought to be hazardous to the health of doctors. Long stressful hours of work which may be associated from higher levels of hazardous drinking as well as increased work-related exposure to hazardous radiation and or toxic chemicals. However, a recurrent research theme is the higher risk of death from suicide which has been recorded in the UK and in Scandinavian countries with record linkage studies.
In the current study we aim to use the two waves of the Northern Ireland Mortality Study (NIMS) to describe the relative health (2011 NIMS) and relative mortality risk (2001 NIMS) of doctors compared to both their socio-economic peers (such as lawyers) and their colleagues in the health service (such as nurses).