Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Mortality among male anaesthetists in the United Kingdom, 1957-83.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: (Published 08 August 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:360
  1. H A Neil,
  2. J G Fairer,
  3. M P Coleman,
  4. A Thurston,
  5. M P Vessey
  1. Department of Community Medicine, University of Oxford, Radcliffe Infirmary.


    A cohort of 3769 male anaesthetists resident in the United Kingdom between 1957 and 1983 was followed up for a total of 51,431 person years of observation. All subjects were fellows of the Faculty of Anaesthetists and held full registration with the General Medical Council. With all men in social class I being taken as the standard, the standardised mortality ratio among anaesthetists for all causes of death was 68 (95% confidence interval 59 to 77) and the standardised mortality ratio for all cancers was 50 (95% confidence interval 36 to 67). There was no significant excess mortality from lymphomas or leukaemias, but 16 of the 221 deaths in anaesthetists were due to suicide, giving a standardised mortality ratio of 202 (95% confidence interval 115 to 328). When anaesthetists were compared with all doctors the standardised mortality ratio for suicide was only 114, a nonsignificant excess. These findings confirm that the risk of suicide among anaesthetists is twice as high as among other men in social class I but suggest that the risk does not differ significantly from that among doctors as a whole. There was no evidence of a significant excess risk of cancer, and, in particular, the small excess of cancer of the pancreas reported previously could not be confirmed.