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Research Christmas 2013: Research

The Brady Bunch? New evidence for nominative determinism in patients’ health: retrospective, population based cohort study

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 12 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6627
  1. John J Keaney, cardiology specialist registrar1,
  2. John D Groarke, cardiology specialist registrar1,
  3. Zita Galvin, gastroenterology specialist registrar2,
  4. Catherine McGorrian, consultant cardiologist1,
  5. Hugh A McCann, consultant cardiologist1,
  6. Declan Sugrue, consultant cardiologist1,
  7. Edward Keelan, consultant cardiologist13,
  8. Joseph Galvin, consultant cardiologist13,
  9. Gavin Blake, consultant cardiologist1,
  10. Niall G Mahon, consultant cardiologist1,
  11. James O’Neill, associate professor134
  1. 1Cardiology Department, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin 7, Ireland
  2. 2Liver Centre, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Ireland
  3. 3James Connolly Memorial Hospital, Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland
  4. 4Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to: J J Keaney jkeaney{at}
  • Accepted 15 October 2013


Objective To ascertain whether a name can influence a person’s health, by assessing whether people with the surname “Brady” have an increased prevalence of bradycardia.

Design Retrospective, population based cohort study.

Setting One university teaching hospital in Dublin, Ireland.

Participants People with the surname “Brady” in Dublin, determined through use of an online telephone directory.

Main outcome measure Prevalence of participants who had pacemakers inserted for bradycardia between 1 January 2007 and 28 February 2013.

Results 579 (0.36%) of 161 967 people who were listed on the Dublin telephone listings had the surname “Brady.” The proportion of pacemaker recipients was significantly higher among Bradys (n=8, 1.38%) than among non-Bradys (n=991, 0.61%; P=0.03). The unadjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval) for pacemaker implantation among individuals with the surname Brady compared with individuals with other surnames was 2.27 (1.13 to 4.57).

Conclusions Patients named Brady are at increased risk of needing pacemaker implantation compared with the general population. This finding shows a potential role for nominative determinism in health.


  • Contributors: JJK extracted the data from the pacemeaker database and wrote the main body of the article and is the study guarantor. JDG did the statistical analysis and contributed to the methods section. ZG constructed table 1. CMcG aided with design of methods and planning of statistical analysis. HAMcC, DS, GB, JG, EK, and NGM all developed and maintained the original database which was the source of our patient information. JO’N developed the initial hypothesis and was research supervisor.

  • Funding: There was no specific funding for this study.

  • Competing interests: All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at and declare: no support from any organisation for the submitted work; Actelion Pharmaceuticals awarded JJK a Newman fellowship in translational medicine and pulmonary hypertension in July 2011, for two years (€35 000 per year), which was used to fund his salary while working as a full time research registrar in the Mater Hospital and while working towards an MD; Actelion Pharmaceuticals did not have any influence over the topic of JJK’s research; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

  • Ethical approval: Ethical approval was given by the hospital ethics committee.

  • Data sharing: No additional data available.

  • The lead author (the manuscript’s guarantor) affirms that the manuscript is an honest, accurate, and transparent account of the study being reported; that no important aspects of the study have been omitted; and that any discrepancies from the study as planned (and, if relevant, registered) have been explained.

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