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Where Do Obituary Listings Come From? Putting the Matter to Rest

Paul J. Rosch, MD
JAMA. 1994;271(3):194. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510270040027.
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To the Editor.  —As one approaches senior-citizen status and beyond, there is often a concomitant increased tendency to turn to newspaper and other obituary columns more rapidly or frequently and to read them with greater interest. In that regard, the Obituary Listing in the March 3, 1993,1 issue seemed most extraordinary. The average age of the 45 physicians listed was 91.3 years, almost half were 93 years of age or older, and the youngest age at death was 86 years.Might the practice of medicine five or six decades ago have played a role in the remarkable longevity of these recently departed colleagues? Physicians were held in higher esteem, and there was more reliance on the caring attributes and skills of practitioners. One cannot help but wonder whether contemporary physicians are not increasingly being robbed of the opportunity to reap the physical, emotional, and spiritual rewards their predecessors enjoyed

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