Cause-specific mortality in professional flight crew and air traffic control officers: findings from two UK population-based cohorts of over 20,000 subjects.


De Stavola, BL; Pizzi, C; Clemens, F; Evans, SA; Evans, AD; Dos Santos Silva, I; (2011) Cause-specific mortality in professional flight crew and air traffic control officers: findings from two UK population-based cohorts of over 20,000 subjects. International archives of occupational and environmental health. ISSN 0340-0131 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-011-0660-5

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Flight crew are exposed to several potential occupational hazards. This study compares mortality rates in UK flight crew to those in air traffic control officers (ATCOs) and the general population. METHODS: A total of 19,489 flight crew and ATCOs were identified from the UK Civil Aviation Authority medical records and followed to the end of 2006. Consented access to medical records and questionnaire data provided information on demographic, behavioral, clinical, and occupational variables. Standardized mortality ratios (SMR) were estimated for these two occupational groups using the UK general population. Adjusted mortality hazard ratios (HR) for flight crew versus ATCOs were estimated via Cox regression models. RESULTS: A total of 577 deaths occurred during follow-up. Relative to the general population, both flight crew (SMR 0.32; 95% CI 0.30, 0.35) and ATCOs (0.39; 0.32, 0.47) had lower all-cause mortality, mainly due to marked reductions in mortality from neoplasms and cardiovascular diseases, although flight crew had higher mortality from aircraft accidents (SMR 42.8; 27.9, 65.6). There were no differences in all-cause mortality (HR 0.99; 95% CI 0.79, 1.25), or in mortality from any major cause, between the two occupational groups after adjustment for health-related variables, again except for those from aircraft accidents. The latter ratios, however, declined with increasing number of hours. CONCLUSIONS: The low all-cause mortality observed in both occupational groups relative to the general population is consistent with a strong "healthy worker effect" and their low prevalence of smoking and other risk factors. Mortality among flight crew did not appear to be influenced by occupational exposures, except for a rise in mortality from aircraft accidents.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Non-Communicable Disease Epidemiology
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Medical Statistics
Research Centre: Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)
PubMed ID: 21674252
Web of Science ID: 301573400005
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/611

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