Deaths among members of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, 1965-89

W. R. Lange, D. L. Frankenfield, J. Carico, M. B. Pfeiffer, F. R. Snyder, J. Van der Decker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps performs health promotion and disease prevention activities and provides clinical care. The authors examined the epidemiology of deaths among active duty personnel and the hypothesis that, based on the mission, mortality would be less than in the general population, and that deaths would reflect nonpreventable causes. A retrospective record review for the period 1965-89 showed 118 active duty deaths, 26 percent of the number anticipated in a general population group adjusted for age, sex, and race or ethnicity. The five major causes of death were coronary heart disease, suicide, motor vehicle crash, malignant neoplasm, and drowning. Beginning with the mid-1980s, infectious disease became a principal cause of death, the only cause for which the rate trended upward. Among professionals, death rates were highest among sanitarians and veterinarians, and lowest among pharmacists. The only causes for which deaths exceeded the expected number involved suicides and possibly deaths related to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Active duty status in the Commissioned Corps was associated with a death rate less than that of comparable groups in the general population. Many of the premature deaths were attributable to preventable causes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-166
Number of pages7
JournalPublic health reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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