Get access

Occupational mortality associated with inflammatory bowel disease in the United States 1984–1998


  • Amnon Sonnenberg MD, MSc,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Portland, Oregon
    2. Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon
    • Portland VA Medical Center, P3-GI, 3710 SW US Veterans Hospital Road, Portland, OR 97239
    Search for more papers by this author
  • James T. Walker PhD

    1. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio#The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of NIOSH
    Search for more papers by this author



The occurrence of Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) is shaped by environmental influences. Many such environmental risk factors vary potentially with occupational exposure. We used a large national database to study the occupational variation of mortality associated with CD and UC.


The National Occupational Mortality Surveillance database contains data from the death certificate linked with information about the occupation and industry of each deceased individual. Deaths were grouped by gender, ethnicity, disease type, occupation, and industry. Mortality by occupation and industry were expressed as age-adjusted proportional mortality ratio.


A total of 3110 inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients were included in the present analysis. IBD mortality was low among blue collar workers and high among white collar workers. It was low among farming occupations, manufacturing occupations, and manual laborers. It was high among secretaries, professionals, sales workers, homemakers, managerial occupations, and teachers. There was a strong correlation between the occupational distribution of CD and UC that applied to men and women alike. The overall distribution among different industries corroborated the patterns observed with respect to the occupational distribution.


The correlations between the occupational distribution of CD and UC support the contention that environmental influences shape the occurrence of both diseases. Such influence must vary by occupation and, to a lesser extent, also by industry. It must be similar for both types of IBD. (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2011;)

Get access to the full text of this article