STUDY OBJECTIVE: To analyse the relative risk (RR) of mortality related to social factors independent of health status and occupational category. SETTING: Subjects were Swiss men and women aged 40-65 years. DESIGN: A random sample of 820 people living in Geneva were followed up prospectively between 1984 and 1996. The social, occupational, and health data were gathered at subjects' homes in 1984 using a standardised questionnaire. Information about deaths and the corresponding dates were obtained from updated files of the Swiss Federal Office of Statistics (OFS). Risk of mortality was examined according to a Cox model. MAIN RESULTS: There were several social prognostic factors of mortality with relative risks greater than 3.0 (RR > 3.0) independent of health and occupational status. These factors were: a period of unemployment during life time, the feeling of not demonstrating initiative in the occupational setting, and not having participated in social activities. CONCLUSION: The results suggest that differential mortality determined by occupational status can be explained in part by factors that are characteristic of "life style", social dynamics, occupational context, and ruptures during the course of occupational life.
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