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Your choice of specialty can have a dramatic impact on the age you die, new research has found.

UK academics have compiled an age at death table for doctors and found that anaesthetists have the worst survival rates, dying 10 years younger than their public health colleagues.

A career in general practice appears to improve mortality compared with most specialties, with GPs on average living 78 years and 11 months.

Both paediatricians and psychiatrists appear to die younger.

Although previous studies suggested psychiatrists suffer higher rates of ischaemic heart disease, it was unclear why paediatricians were affected, the authors said.

Age of death by medical specialty:

Specialty Average age at death 1. Public health 83 years, 7 months 2. Obstetrics and gynaecology 81 years, 7 months 3. Surgery 79 years 4. General Practice and Medicine 78 years, 11 months 5. Paediatrics 75 years, 11 months 6. Radiology 75 years 7. Psychiatry 74 years, 8 months 8. Anaesthetics 73 years, 4 months Doctor average 78 years, 5 months However, the researchers found that doctors gain an extra year of life for each child they have – although this, apparently, only has benefits for up to five children.

Bizarrely, the survival benefits of children were significant for all specialties except paediatrics.

“Radiologists had a reduced [age at death], possibly explained by the reported increased risk of death from respiratory disease and cancer mortality,” added the researchers writing in Occupational Medicine.

The data was pulled from 3068 obituaries of UK doctors published in the BMJ between 2003 and 2012.

The authors point out that they had no information on the quality of life enjoyed (or not) by doctors included in the survey.


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