Association between course of study at university and cause-specific mortality

McCarron, P., Okasha, M., McEwen, J. and Davey Smith, G. (2003) Association between course of study at university and cause-specific mortality. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 96(8), pp. 384-388.

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Although socioeconomic position is clearly related to mortality and one measure of this is length of education, it is not known whether the choice of course at university determines future health. We therefore investigated the association between faculty of study and all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a prospective follow-up of male students who underwent health examinations while attending Glasgow University from 1948 to 1968. Among the 9887 (84%) alumni traced by means of the NHS Central Register, 8367 (85%) had full data on important potential confounding variables; 939 of these men had died. Physiological variables differed little between students from the various faculties. Medical students were most likely to come from affluent social backgrounds and, after law students, were most likely to be smokers. Compared with former medical students, former arts and law students had excess all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality, while science and engineering alumni had similar risks. Former medical students had lower lung cancer mortality than other alumni but higher mortality from alcohol-related causes including accidents, suicide and violence. The lower mortality risks observed among former medical and engineering students may be due to their better employment prospects and healthier lifestyle behaviours, although the high mortality from alcohol-related causes among former medical students underscores the complexity of choice of health behaviour. The findings point to the potential for disease prevention among the large proportion of the population who now have third-level education.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Davey Smith, Professor George and McEwen, Professor James
Authors: McCarron, P., Okasha, M., McEwen, J., and Davey Smith, G.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
Journal Name:Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine

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