Disparities in Mortality Among Doctors in Taiwan: A 17-year Follow-Up Study of 37 545 Doctors

BMJ Open. 2012 Feb 15;2(1):e000382. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000382. Print 2012.


Objectives: The authors used cohort data from the registry of all doctors in Taiwan to determine if the effect of health disparities exists after control of potential confounding by different occupational exposures in different specialties.

Design: Retrospective cohort study, 1990-2006.

Settings: The Taiwan Medical Association.

Participants: A total of 37 545 doctors from the registry of the doctor file maintained by the Taiwan Medical Association. The registry has been required by the governmental regulation for verification of credentials of all practicing doctors.

Main outcome measures: Cause-specific standardised mortality ratios for surgeons and anaesthesiologists were compared with those of the internists. The Cox proportional hazard model was constructed to explore multiple risk factors for mortality, including specialties, age, gender, geographic region of practices, regional health resources, ages of beginning practices and years of beginning practice.

Results: The all-cause-specific standardised mortality ratios for surgeons and anaesthesiologists were marginally elevated at 1.15 (95% CI 0.98 to 1.34) and 1.62 (95% CI 0.93 to 2.64), respectively. The Cox regression model showed that the anaesthesiologists had the highest HR of 1.97, seconded by surgeons at 1.23. Localities with the doctor-to-population ratio lower than 1:500 were associated with an increased HR of doctor mortality.

Conclusions: The doctor-to-population ratio and the region of practice may influence doctor's mortality. Increasing number of doctors and/or improving the practice environment may be helpful in reducing the health disparities in regions with poor resources.