The Whitehall Study was an investigation into the health outcomes among male civil servants between the ages of 20 and 64 in Great Britain. Research papers on the Whitehall Study examine the results and explicate its findings and importance.
Beginning in 1967, and conducted over the course of a ten-year period, the original Whitehall Study sought to compare mortality among the wide social range encompassed by the British Civil Service. Findings of the Whitehall Study determined that mortality rates were higher among lower classes of workers. In other words, the more senior one was in the British class hierarchy, the longer one could expect to live.
When published in 1978, the findings, that there was a steep inverse between employment grade and mortality from a wide variety of diseases was shocking.
- Of the 17,530 civil servants followed over the course of a decade, men in the lowest grade of service, such as messengers, had 3.6 times more coronary heart disease than administrators in the highest levels.
- Men in lower grades were also found to be shorter, weighed more, had higher blood pressure, smoked more, and reported less leisure activities than their counterparts in the higher levels.
Given these shocking results, a second longitudinal study, called Whitehall II, included female participants, and was conducted between 1985 and 1988. Of the 10,314 participants in this second Whitehall Study, results were largely the same. Further, women in higher grades of employment were less likely to be married, and higher mortality rates in general.