Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Short report
Mortality among diagnostic medical radiation workers in South Korea, 1996–2015
  1. Won Jin Lee1,2,
  2. Seulki Ko1,2,
  3. Ye Jin Bang1,2,
  4. Eun Shil Cha1,2,
  5. Kyoung-Mu Lee3
  1. 1 Department of Preventive Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea
  2. 2 Department of Epidemiology and Health Informatics, Graduate School of Public Health, Korea University, Seoul, South Korea
  3. 3 Department of Environmental Health, Korea National Open University, Seoul, South Korea
  1. Correspondence to Prof. Won Jin Lee, Department of Preventive Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul 02841, South Korea; leewj{at}


Objectives To evaluate the risk for all-cause and cause-specific mortality in diagnostic medical radiation workers in South Korea.

Methods The study population included all diagnostic medical radiation workers enrolled in the National Dosimetry Registry (NDR) between 1996 and 2011. NDR data were linked with mortality data obtained from national registries through 2015. Standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) and relative standardised mortality ratios (rSMRs) were calculated for external comparison and for adjustment of the cohort’s overall healthiness.

Results A total of 1099 deaths (974 in men and 125 in women) were reported from among 80 837 medical radiation workers. The SMRs for all causes of death were significantly lower than expected in both men (SMR 0.45, 95% CI 0.42 to 0.48) and women (SMR 0.49, 95% CI 0.41 to 0.58). No excesses were observed for any specific cause of death. The findings were similar by job title, calendar year of entry and year of birth. However, relative to all causes of death, mortality from all cancers (rSMR 1.60, 95% CI 1.41 to 1.82), leukaemia, colon cancer, stomach cancer and diseases of the circulatory system increased significantly among male workers. The results for female workers were limited due to small number of deaths; however, the rSMR for all cancers was significantly elevated (rSMR 1.70, 95% CI 1.17 to 2.46).

Conclusions This cohort showed lower mortality among diagnostic medical radiation workers than in the general population. However, occupational factors may have been involved in the increased relative mortality for several causes of death.

  • cancer
  • cohort
  • death
  • healthy worker effect
  • occupational exposure

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors WJL developed the idea for the research and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. SK and YJB performed the data analyses. ESC and KML provided advice on analysis of data and revised the manuscript. WJL incorporated the comments and wrote the final revision. All authors contributed to the draft revision and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by a grant from the Korea Health Technology R&D Project, through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea (grant number: HI16C1186).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval Institutional Review Board of Korea University (1040548-KU-IRB-16-203-A-1).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.