Medische opleiding gaf geen overlevingsvoordeel*

Levensverwachting van Nederlandse medici geboren in 1550-1909
Onderzoek
18-07-2018
Frans W.A. van Poppel, Govert E. Bijwaard, Mart J. van Lieburg, Fred A. van Lieburg, Rik Hoekstra en Frans Verkade

In 1724 verscheen een Nederlandse vertaling van het werk van de Italiaanse medicus Bernardino Ramazzini onder de titel Historisse natuur- en geneeskundige verhandeling van de ziekten der konstenaars, ambagtslieden en handwerkers . Ramazzini’s werk wordt beschouwd als de eerste studie waarin de relatie tussen beroep en ziekte als ordenend beginsel van de nosologie werd gehanteerd. De geneeskunstbeoefenaren komen in het boek in gunstige zin naar voren. Casuïstische waarnemingen vormden lange tijd de basis voor deze en latere beschrijvingen van de gezondheid van medici.

Medical training did not give survival advantage; life expectancy of Dutch medical professionals born between 1550 and 1909

Objective

To examine if, over a period of centuries, the Dutch medical establishment enjoyed a survival advantage over a population group with a comparable social background and level of education.

Design

Retrospective database research.

Method

We used documents which provided data on the births and deaths of 15,649 male and 659 female medical professionals and of 15,304 male clergy. We calculated the remaining life expectancy at the age of 25 of those generations born between the middle of the 16th century and the beginning of the 20th century. We applied event history analysis to estimate remaining life expectancy, dependently of survival at the age of 25. In doing this we applied Gompertz distribution and made a maximum likelihood estimation.

Results

From the middle of the 16th century onwards, the development of the life expectancy of medical professionals and clergy was comparable; it was characterised by a continuing increase in remaining life expectancy which was only interrupted in those generations who were confronted with a series of epidemics. The level of the remaining life expectancy was also comparable. Only in the generation born in the first decade of the 20th century did the life expectancy of medical professionals become on par with that of the total male population. The remaining life expectancy of female medical professionals born from 1850 onwards was higher than that of the total female population.

Conclusion

For a long time, medical training conferred no advantage on survival.

Conflict of interest and financial support: none declared.