Hazardous Journeys

How long did their hearts go on? A Titanic study

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.327.7429.1457 (Published 18 December 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:1457
  1. James A Hanley ([email protected]), professor1,
  2. Elizabeth Turner, graduate student2,
  3. Carine Bellera, graduate student1,
  4. Dana Teltsch, graduate student1
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health, McGill University, 1020 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1A2
  2. 2Department of Mathematics and Statistics, McGill University
  1. Correspondence to: J A Hanley

    Several studies have examined post-traumatic stress in people who survive disasters but few have looked at longevity. The 1997 film Titanic followed one character, apparently fictional, but the longevity of the actual survivors, as a group, has not been studied. Did the survivors of the sinking of the Titanic have shortened life spans? Or did they outlive those for whom 14-15 April 1912 was a less personal night to remember?

    Subjects, methods, and results

    We limited our study to passengers. We used data from biographies listed in Encyclopedia Titanica, a website that claims to have “among the most accurate passenger and crew lists ever compiled.”1 Of the 500 passengers listed as survivors, 435 have been traced. We calculated the proportion alive at each anniversary of the sinking.

    The largest groups travelling in first and second class were North American or British; …

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