Monday, December 24, 2012

Doctors And Statistics

Two doctors today talking about what they will be doing over the next decade – one mentions the high mortality rate in the first two years after people retire, and the other nods emphatically, explaining that this is precisely why he will only go into semiretirement.  This is why it’s important to go to medical school, so that you can say dumb stuff but still sound knowledgeable, because you say “high mortality rate” instead of  “death.”

People’s retirement dates are often strongly influenced by their health.  They know they have a shorter life expectancy and want to get some things done, or they have less energy or more pain, which makes working difficult.  That group is going to have a rather “high mortality rate” in the first two years after retirement, true?  They should bring up the average, yes?

I’m hoping they evaluate studies on treatment efficacy with a little more thought.


bs king said...

Additionally, people tend to retire because their spouses are ill. Death of a spouse can have an effect on ones own mortality as well.

MaxedOutMama said...

Yes, it is strikingly odd that well-educated persons presumably used to assessing this sort of thing could confuse correlation and causation so deeply.

If you are very ill with impaired function, you ARE going to stop working. Therefore, at any given time there will be a positive correlation between stopping working and poor health in the next few years.

I'm awed, really.