Trends in disease incidence and survival and their effect on mortality in Scotland: nationwide cohort study of linked hospital admission and death records 2001–2016

Paul Timmers, Joannes J Kerssens , Jon Minton, Ian Grant, Jim Wilson, Harry Campbell, Colin M. Fischbacher, Peter K Joshi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives Identify causes and future trends underpinning Scottish mortality improvements and quantify the relative contributions of disease incidence and survival.
Design Population-based study.
Setting Linked secondary care and mortality records across Scotland.
Participants 1 967 130 individuals born between 1905 and 1965 and resident in Scotland from 2001 to 2016.
Main outcome measures Hospital admission rates and survival within 5 years postadmission for 28 diseases, stratified by sex and socioeconomic status.
Results ‘Influenza and pneumonia’, ‘Symptoms and signs involving circulatory and respiratory systems’ and ‘Malignant neoplasm of respiratory and intrathoracic organs’ were the hospital diagnosis groupings associated with most excess deaths, being both common and linked to high postadmission mortality. Using disease trends, we modelled a mean mortality HR of 0.737 (95% CI 0.730 to 0.745) from one decade of birth to the next, equivalent to a life extension of ~3 years per decade. This improvement was 61% (30%–93%) accounted for by improved disease survival after hospitalisation (principally cancer) with the remainder accounted for by lowered hospitalisation incidence (principally heart disease and cancer). In contrast, deteriorations in infectious disease incidence and survival increased mortality by 9% (~3.3 months per decade). Disease-driven mortality improvements were slightly greater for men than women (due to greater falls in disease incidence), and generally similar across socioeconomic deciles. We project mortality improvements will continue over the next decade but slow by 21% because much progress in disease survival has already been achieved.
Conclusion Morbidity improvements broadly explain observed mortality improvements, with progress on prevention and treatment of heart disease and cancer contributing the most. The male–female health gaps are closing, but those between socioeconomic groups are not. Slowing improvements in morbidity may explain recent stalling in improvements of UK period life expectancies. However, these could be offset if we accelerate improvements in the diseases accounting for most deaths and counteract recent deteriorations in infectious disease.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Open
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2020

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