Claudia Zimmermann receives OeGEpi Prize of the Society for Epidemiology

Claudia Zimmermann, a member of the Department of Epidemiology at MedUni Vienna’s Center for Public Health, has been awarded this year’s Best Paper Award by the Austrian Society for Epidemiology for her work on suicide mortality in healthcare professions and other highly qualified occupational groups.

Some studies show that people in healthcare professions have a higher risk of suicide - although the results vary in different countries. In general, highly qualified occupational groups have a lower risk of suicide, which is usually attributed to higher income and higher levels of education.

This study was the first to examine the suicide risk of several Austrian healthcare professions (doctors, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists) and other highly qualified professions (notaries, tax consultants/auditors and lawyers) in comparison to the general population. The necessary data was collected in cooperation with the chambers of these professional groups.

The results show that among male members of these professions, only veterinarians have a significantly higher risk of suicide. Male doctors even showed a significantly lower risk of suicide compared to the general population. The situation was different for women: In all four healthcare professions (female doctors, dentists, veterinarians and pharmacists), the risk of suicide was increased. While more than three times as many men as women die by suicide in the general population, this gap is significantly smaller or almost non-existent in the occupational groups studied.

These results suggest that increased awareness and specific suicide prevention measures in healthcare professions, particularly with regard to women, could help to improve the situation.

About the person

Claudia Zimmermann studied sociology at the Karl-Franzens-University Graz and completed an MSc in Evidence Based Social Intervention at the University of Oxford. She is currently completing her PhD in Applied Medical Science with a focus on Public Health at MedUni Vienna. She works as a research assistant at the Department of Epidemiology at MedUni Vienna’s Center for Public Health.

Publikation: Psychiatry Research

Zimmermann, C; Strohmaier, S; Niederkrotenthaler, T; Thau, K; Schernhammer, E. (2023) Suicide mortality among physicians, dentists, veterinarians, and pharmacists as well as other high-skilled occupations in Austria from 1986 through 2020. Psychiatry research, 323,­sychres.20­23.115170.