Objectives: Earlier studies found striking differences in mortality from myocardial infarction between Roseto, a homogeneous Italian-American community in Pennsylvania, and other nearby towns between 1955 and 1965. These differences disappeared as Roseto became more "Americanized" in the 1960s. The present study extended the comparison over a longer period of time to test the hypothesis that the findings from this period were not due to random fluctuations in small communities.
Methods: We examined death certificates for Roseto and Bangor from 1935 to 1985. Age-standardized death rates and mortality ratios were computed for each decade.
Results: Rosetans had a lower mortality rate from myocardial infarction over the course of the first 30 years, but it rose to the level of Bangor's following a period of erosion of traditionally cohesive family and community relationships. This mortality-rate increase involved mainly younger Rosetan men and elderly women.
Conclusions: The data confirmed the existence of consistent mortality differences between Roseto and Bangor during a time when there were many indicators of greater social solidarity and homogeneity in Roseto.