Mortality patterns among female nurses: a 27-state study, 1984 through 1990

Am J Public Health. 1997 Sep;87(9):1539-43. doi: 10.2105/ajph.87.9.1539.


Objectives: This study examined the mortality experience of 50,000 nurses using the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance database of death certificates.

Methods: Proportionate mortality ratios adjusted by race (White, Black, or other) and 5-year age groups were calculated for selected causes of death among female nurses vs all workers and white-collar workers.

Results: Excess deaths among nurses less than 65 years of age were seen in both comparison groups for viral hepatitis, cancer of the nasal cavities, accidental falls, suicide, and drug-related deaths. Among nurses 65 years old or older, deaths due to chronic myeloid leukemia were in excess. Proportionate mortality ratios for breast and colon cancers, diabetes, and heart disease varied by occupational comparison group.

Conclusions: These findings confirm results of previous studies and identify new associations. Redoubled efforts are called for in overcoming obstacles to reducing workplace hazards.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cause of Death*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Death Certificates
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurses*
  • Occupations
  • United States