British Surnames and Health Outcomes

What’s in a surname, if one wants to see portents about the medical fates of persons who have those surnames? This study aims to answer that question, focusing on British surnames:

British Surname Origins, Population Structure and Health Outcomes—An Observational Study of Hospital Admissions,” Jakob Petersen, Jens Kandt, and Paul A. Longley, Scientific Reports, vol. 12, no. 2156, 2022. (Thanks to Tony Tweedale for bringing this to our attention.) The authors report:

We coded hospital admissions of over 30 million patients in England between 1999 and 2013 to their British surname origin and divided their diagnoses into 125 major disease categories… with ubiquitous English surnames such as “Smith” as reference… The results were scanned for “signals”, where a branch of related surname origins all had significantly higher or lower risk. Age- and sex-standardised admission was calculated for each signal across area deprivation and surname origin density quintiles. Signals included three branches of English surnames (disorders of teeth and jaw, fractures, upper gastrointestinal disorders).

Improbable Research