In a historical perspective, doctors in western industrialised countries had a higher mortality than comparable groups up to about 1950, mainly due to contagious disease. Presently doctors enjoy a lower mortality than what is seen in the general population, with the notable exception of death by suicide. Morbidity is also lower among doctors, particularly when measured as sickness absence from work. The article reviews some of the evidence about the health of doctors, and to what extent health problems may be caused or amplified by their work. It is suggested that if the general population follows the doctors on the road to nonsmoking,
and the socio-economic gradient between doctors and population becomes less pronounced, we may see a convergence between the doctors' and the patients' mortality and morbidity where both improve, the patients faster than the doctors.