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Is Friday the 13th bad for your health?

Authors:

Abstract

To examine the relation between health, behaviour, and superstition surrounding Friday 13th in the United Kingdom. Retrospective study of paired data comparing driving and shopping patterns and accidents. Drivers, shoppers, and residents. South West Thames region. Numbers of vehicles on motorways; numbers of shoppers in supermarkets; and hospital admissions due to accidents. There were consistently and significantly fewer vehicles on the southern section of the M25 on Friday the 13th compared with Friday the 6th. The numbers of shoppers were not significantly different on the two days. Admissions due to transport accidents were significantly increased on Friday 13th (total 65 v 45; p < 0.05). Friday 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52%. Staying at home is recommended.
Sartorial
implications
*
The
decline
in
the
sartorial
elegance
often
associated
with
the
medical
profession
particu-
larly
in
the
field
of
obstetrics
and
gynaecology,
seems
to
have
accelerated
over
the
past
genera-
tion
*
The
wearing
of
bow
ties
has
decreased
*
The
results
of
the
study
suggest
a
possible
lower
contamination
of
bow
ties
*
In
spite
of
the
results
of
this
study,
because
of
its
peculiar
image
implications,
this
exquisite
fashion
accessory
will
remain
confined
to
being
wom
by
a
small
minority
of
bow
tie
connoisseurs
fluid
and
blood,
resulting
in
greater
contamination
of
conventional
ties
than
bow
ties,
as
suggested
in
this
study.
Greater
contamination
does
not,
however,
mean
that
the
level
of
cross
infection
in
patients
attended
must
be
higher.
To
confirm
that,
a
much
larger
study
looking
at
infection
on
postnatal
wards
would
be
necessary.
A
necktie
is
the
most
useless
item
in
any
man's
wardrobe.
It
does
not
offer
any
protection
against
the
weather
or
injury;
it
is
even
rather
uncomfortable.
Yet
most
men
would
not
dream
of
going
to
work
or
to
any
special
event
without
wearing
a
tie,
using
it
as
their
sole
opportunity
to
flaunt
their
individuality,
taste,
and
style
against
the
dull
uniform
of
a
suit.9
Bow
ties
enjoyed
a
bad
press
through
the
1970s
and
1
980s
unless
wom
with
formal
evening
clothes:
American
image
consultant
John
Molloy
wamed
that
those
wearing
bow
ties
would
not
be
taken
seriously
or
be
trusted
with
anything
important.'0
It
is
therefore
not
surpris-
ing
that
most
doctors
lack
the
courage
and
motivation
to
include
a
bow
tie
in
their
wardrobe,
and
none
of
the
doctors
in
the
study
regularly
wore
bow
ties.
In
view
of
this,
and
despite
the
fact
that
all
the
doctors
interviewed
said
that
they
would
consider
wearing
bow
ties
if
they
proved
to
be
more
hygienic,
we
believe
that
this
exquisite
fashion
accessory
will
remain
confined
to
a
small
minority
of
connoisseurs.
We
thank
the
participants
from
Arrowe
Park
Hospital,
Birmingham
Maternity
Hospital,
Mill
Road
Maternity
Hospital,
the
Royal
Liverpool
University
Hospital
in
Liver-
pool,
HM
Stanley
Hospital,
and
St
Asaph
and
Whiston
District
General
Hospital
for
their
enthusiasm;
Professor
John
Newton
for
his
kind
comments;
and
Schering
Health
Care
for
their
generous
sponsorship
of
this
study.
1
Byrde
P.
The
male
image.
The
necktie.
London:
Anchor
Press,
1979:111-23.
2
De
Marly
D.
Working
dress.
A
history
of
occupational
clothing.
Bath:
Bath
Press,
1986.
3
Bettman
OL,
Hench
PS.
A
pictorial
history
of
medicine.
Springfield,
IL:
C
C
Thomas,
1976.
4
Margotta
R.
An
illustrated
history
of
medicine.
Feltham:
Hamlyn,
1967:229.
5
Sakula
A.
Portraits,
paintings
and
sculptures.
London:
Royal
Society
of
Medicine,
1988:150.
6
[Editorial].
Tailorand
Cutter
1990:
March
18:
3.
7
Godlee
R.
Lister
and
his
work.
London:
University
of
London
Press,
1927:
100-2.
8
Tooley
S.
Life
of
Florence
Nightingale.
London:
S
Bousfield,
1904:119.
9
Amies
H.
Introduction.
In:
Gibbons
S.
The
Tie.
London:
Studio
Editions,
1990:6.
10
Molloy
JT.
Dress
for
success.
New
York:
Warner
Books,
1976:76-8.
Is
Friday
the
13th
bad
for
your
health?
T
J
Scanlon,
Robert
N
Luben,
F
L
Scanlon,
Nicola
Singleton
Department
of
Public
Health,
Mid
Downs
Health
Authority,
Haywards
Heath,
West
Sussex
RH16
4BE
T
J
Scanlon,
registrar
in
public
health
Robert
N
Luben,
small
systems
analyst
F
L
Scanlon,
registrar
in
psychiatry
Nicola
Singleton,
senior
research
officer
Correspondence
to:
Dr
Scanlon.
BMJ
1993;307:
1584-6
Abstract
Objective-To
examine
the
relation
between
health,
behaviour,
and
superstition
surrounding
Friday
13th
in
the
United
Kingdom.
Design-Retrospective
study
of
paired
data
comparing
driving
and
shopping
patterns
and
accidents.
Subjects-Drivers,
shoppers,
and
residents.
Setting-South
West
Thames
region.
Main
outcome
measures-Numbers
of
vehicles
on
motorways;
numbers
of
shoppers
in
supermarkets;
and
hospital
admissions
due
to
accidents.
Results-There
were
consistently
and
signifi-
cantly
fewer
vehicles
on
the
southern
section
of
the
M25
on
Friday
the
13th
compared
with
Friday
the
6th.
The
numbers
of
shoppers
were
not
significantly
different
on
the
two
days.
Admissions
due
to
trans-
port
accidents
were
significantly
increased
on
Friday
13th
(total
65
v
45;
p
<
0
05).
Conclusions-Friday
13th
is
unlucky
for
some.
The
risk
of
hospital
admission
as
a
result
of
a
transport
accident
may
be
increased
by
as
much
as
52%.
Staying
at
home
is
recommended.
Introduction
Superstitions
affect
behaviour
in
all
cultures
in
all
parts
of
the
world
in
some
form
or
other.
Most
work,
however,
seems
to
have
focused
on
the
effects
of
supernatural
beliefs
in
developing
countries.`16
Perhaps
there
is
a
subconscious
perception
that
people
in
the
West
are
too
sophisticated
to
be
influenced
by
such
trifles.
The
purpose
of
this
study
was
to
examine
the
relation
between
health,
behaviour,
and
superstition
in
the
United
Kingdom.
To
assess
this,
we
considered
the
relation
between
accidents
and
Friday
the
13th,
which
is
popularly
perceived
to
be
an
unlucky
day.
The
origins
of
Friday
the
13th
as
an
unlucky
day
are
twofold:
Friday
and
the
number
13.
FRIDAY
Now
Friday
came,
you
old
wives
say,
Of
all
the
week's
the
unluckiest
day.
The
roots
of
Friday
as
an
unlucky
day
are
predomi-
nantly
Christian,
Good
Friday
being
the
day
on
which
Christ
was
crucified.
Superstitions
about
Friday
exist
in
various
parts
of
the
world.
Within
Britain
itself
there
are
regional
superstitions.7
In
Somerset,
whoever
tums
a
bed
on
Friday
turns
ships
at
sea.
In
Cumberland,
babies
born
on
a
Friday
were
laid
on
the
family
Bible.
In
various
regions,
to
call
a
doctor
for
the
first
time
on
a
Friday
is
held
to
be
a
certain
omen
of
death
for
the
patient.
(Unfortunately
the
GMC
is
unlikely
to
view
this
as
sufficient
good
reason
for
refusing
a
house
call.)
Hair
and
nails
should
never
be
cut
on
a
Friday.
Why
these
have
been
chosen
as
unlucky
if
occurring
on
a
Friday
is
not
clear.
Other
superstitions
around
Friday
have
more
apparent
origins.
For
example,
laundry
should
never
be
washed
on
a
Friday.
A
Yorkshire
legend
has
it
that
as
Christ
was
walking
to
Calvary
a
woman
washing
outside
her
house
derisively
waved
a
wet
garment
at
his
face,
whereupon
he
cursed
her
and
all
who
should
in
future
wash
on
that
day.
Although
generally
considered
unlucky
for
weddings,
1584
BMJ
VOLUME
307
18-25
DECEMBER
1993
Friday
is
actually
regarded
by
some
as
lucky:
in
Norse
mythology
Friday
is
sacred
to
the
Goddess
Freya
and
hence
fortunate
for
lovers.
THE
NUMBER
13
The
origins
of
many
of
the
superstitions
around
the
number
13
are
Christian
too,
mainly
pertaining
to
the
last
supper
when
Christ
dined
with
his
12
apostles.
Even
before
this,
the
Romans
disliked
the
number
13
as
much
as
we
do,
regarding
it
as
a
symbol
of
death,
destruction,
and
misfortune.8
Thirteen
is
widely
considered
an
unlucky
number.
Houses
are
often
not
given
the
number
13,
nor
are
many
apartment
blocks.
With
an
eye
on
the
market,
many
hotels
do
not
have
a
13th
floor;
the
Carlton
Hotel
in
London
may
have
18
floors,
but
the
13th
is
missing.
It
is
very
unlucky
for
13
people
to
sit
down
and
dine
together.
The
first
to
rise,
like
the
ill
fated
apostle,
will
meet
serious
misfortune
within
the
year.
Few
people
are
married
on
the
13th,
and
Friday
the
13th,
particu-
larly
if
it
falls
in
May,
is
regarded
with
extreme
foreboding.
Methods
Gathering
examples
of
superstition
is
relatively
easy,
but
the
level
and
effects
of
such
superstitions
on
behaviour
are
rather
more
difficult
to
quantify.
As
La
Pierre
showed
in
the
1930s,
what
people
say
and
what
they
do
are
often
very
different.9
To
avoid
this
bias
and
to
minimise
costs
we
used
routinely
collected
data
from
not
so
routine
sources
to
address
the
following
questions:
just
how
superstitious
are
people
and
how
TABLE
i-Trafficflows
on
southern
section
of
M25
Difference
Friday
6th
Friday
13th
(6th-i
3th)
July
1990
Junction
7
to
8
139
246
138
548
698
Junction
9
to
IO
134
012
132
908
1104
September
1991
Junction
7
to
8
137
055
136
018
1037
Junction
9
to
I0
133
732
131
843
1889
December
1991
Junction
7
to
8
123
552
121
641
1911
Junction9tolO
121139
118723
2416
March
1992
Junction
7
to
8
128
293
125
532
2761
Junction
9
to
10
124
631
120
249
4382
November
1992
Junction
7
to
8
124
609
122
770
1839
Junction
9
to
10
117
584
117
263
321
TABLE
ui-Number
of
shoppers
in
nine
Sainsburys
supermarkets
in
south
east
England
1990
1991
1992
July
September
December
March
November
Total
(mean)
Epsom:
6th
4942 4895
4805
4570
4506
23
718
(4744)
13th
4882
4736
4784
4603
4629
23
634
(4727)
Guildford:
6th
6754 6704
5871
6026
5676
31
031
(6206)
13th
6998
6707 5662
6162
5665
31
194
(6239)
Dorking:
6th
3685
3799
3563
3673 3558
18
278
(3656)
13th
3848 3680
3554
3676
3613
18
371
(3674)
Chichester:
6th
5751
5367
4949
5298
5199
26
564
(5313)
13th
5993
5320
4960
5467
5092
26
832
(5366)
Horsham:
6th
4141
3674
3707
3633
3688
18
843
(3769)
13th
4389
3660 3822
3730
3615
19
216
(3843)
East
Grinstead:
6th
4266
3954
4028
3689
3920
19
857
(3971)
13th
4532
3964
3926
3692 3853
19
967
(3993)
Lewisham:
6th
7138
6568 6514
6115
5325
31
660(6332)
13th
6836 6363
6555
6412
6099
32
265
(6453)
Nine
Elms:
6th
6502
6416
6422
6748
7023
331
1(6622)
13th
6648 6398 6503
6716
7057
33
322
(6664)
Crystal
Palace:
6th
4083
4107
4168
4174
4079
20
611
(4122)
13th
4277
4334
4050 4198
4105
20
964
(4193)
does
this
affect
their
behaviour?
And
is
Friday
the
13th
a
more
unlucky
day?
We
can
turn
the
first
question
around
and
make
reasonable
inferences
as
to
just
how
superstitious
people
are
by
examining
their
behaviour-for
example,
are
people
less
likely
to
drive
and
shop
on
Friday
the
13th?
We
looked
at
information
from
the
Department
of
Transport
on
traffic
flows-specifi-
cally,
for
the
southern
section
of
the
M25,
between
junctions
7
and
8
and
junctions
9
and
10-and
from
the
market
research
department
of
J
Sainsbury
plc
on
the
numbers
of
shoppers
in
nine
different
supermarkets
in
south
east
England.
To
address
the
second
question
we
looked
at
the
number
of
admissions
for
accidents
and
poisoning
in
South
West
Thames
region
and
at
what
we
agreed
were
the
particularly
unlucky
accidents
that
could
occur.
The
population
studied
broadly
corresponded
to
the
residents
of
South
West
Thames
Regional
Health
Authority
(south
London,
Surrey,
and
West
Sussex).
The
1991
census
gave
this
population
as
3
230
100.
Because
a
normal
distribution
could
not
be
assumed
for
any
of
the
data,
non-parametric
methods
were
used
in
data
analysis.
Results
DRIVING
Figures
on
traffic
flows
are
available
for
the
past
three
years
(table
I).
Analysis
did
not
include
April
1990,
the
13th
of
which
was
Good
Friday.
There
were
consistently
and
significantly
fewer
motorists
on
the
road
on
Friday
the
13th
than
on
Friday
the
6th
(p
<
0
01,
Wilcoxon
signed
rank
test).
Examination
of
the
weather
patterns
for
the
south
east
did
not
show
different
weather
patterns
for
the
two
Fridays.
(The
weather
does
not
seem
to
be
any
more
unlucky.)
Examination
of
the
percentage
fewer
vehicles
on
the
road
may
reveal
the
numbers
of
people
less
likely
to
drive
on
Friday
the
13th,
which
may
be
due
to
superstition.
There
were
1-4%
fewer
vehicles
on
the
southern
section
of
the
M25
on
Friday
the
13th-even
if
each
vehicle
had
only
one
occupant
this
could
mean
at
least
1-4%
of
the
population
are
sufficiently
super-
stitious
to
alter
their
behaviour
and
refrain
from
driving
on
motorways
on
Friday
the
13th.
SHOPPING
If
fewer
people
are
driving
on
motorways,
what
are
they
doing
instead?
To
examine
whether
they
were
remaining
at
home
we
looked
at
figures
for
shopping
at
nine
supermarkets.
Table
II
compares
Friday
the
13th
with
Friday
the
6th
for
the
five
typical
Friday
13ths
over
the
past
three
years.
In
all
supermarkets
but
one
there
were
on
average
more
shoppers
on
Friday
the
13th
than
on
Friday
6th
(total
average
difference
0.93%;
p<
005).
EMERGENCY
ADMISSIONS
Data
on
emergency
admissions
due
to
accidents
and
poisoning
(main
diagnosis)
were
available
for
the
nine
Friday
the
13ths
over
the
past
five
years.
As
coding
for
May
1988
and
January
1989
was
incomplete,
these
figures
are
not
included
(only
one
accident
was
recorded
during
these
four
days),
nor
were
those
for
Good
Friday
when
it
fell
on
the
13th.
As
can
be
seen
from
table
III,
emergency
admissions
with
the
main
diagnosis
of
accident
or
poisoning
were
higher
on
Friday
the
13th
(mean
6)
than
on
Friday
the
6th
(mean
5).
The
numbers
are
small
and
the
differ-
ence
is
not
statistically
significant.
Therefore
we
looked
at
all
admissions
of
South
West
Thames
residents
with
a
subsidiary
diagnosis
in
specific
accident
categories:
accidental
falls
(ICD
E880.0-
E888.9);
injuries
caused
by
venomous
animals
and
BMJ
VOLUME
307
18-25
DECEMBER
1993
1
585
plants
and
other
animals
(E905.0-E906.9);
injuries
undetermined
whether
accidently
or
purposely
inflicted
(E980.0-E989.9);
accidental
poisoning
by
drugs,
biological
agents,
other
solids,
gases,
or
vapours
(E850.0-E869.9);
and
transport
accidents
(E800.0-
E848.9).
Table
IV
shows
these
data
for
the
six
Fridays
TABLE
in-Numbers
of
emergency
admissions
for
accidents
(including
fractures)
and
poisoning,
South
West
Thames
region
Friday
6th
Friday
13th
1989:
October
4
7
1990:
July
6
6
1991:
September
1
5
December
9
5
1992:
March
9 7
November
1
6
Total
(mean)
30
(5)
36
(6)
TABLE
Iv-Numbers
of
admissions
of
South
West
Thames
residents
by
type
of
accident
Friday
6th
(n
-
6)
Friday 13th
(n
-
6)
Cause
of
accident
Total
Mean
Total
Mean
Falling
370
61-7
343
57-2
Animals
1
0-1
3 0-5
Undetermined
1
0-1
4
0
7
Poisoning
37
6-2
33
5-5
Transport
45
7-5
65
10-8
TABLE
v-Numbers
of
admissions
due
to
transport
accidents,
South
West
Thames
region
Friday
6th
Friday
13th
1989:
October
9
13
1990:
July
6
12
1991:
September
11
14
December
11
10
1992:
March
3
4
November
5
12
Total
45
65
used
since
October
1989.
The
only
accident
group
that
showed
a
statistically
significant
result
was
transport
accidents,
which
we
analysed
further
(table
V).
On
five
of
the
six
Friday
the
13ths
there
were
more
accidents
than
on
the
Friday
the
6ths
(p
<
0
05).
Discussion
Although
the
data
are
few
and
the
statistical
analysis
simple,
some
tentative
conclusions
can
be
drawn.
DRIVING
Fewer
people
seem
prepared
to
drive
on
motorways
on
Friday
the
13th.
About
1
4%
of
the
population
may
be
so
affected.
Analysis
of
data
comparing,
for
example,
Friday
the
5th
with
Friday
the
12th
would
rule
out
other
unrecognised
reasons
for
weekly
changes
in
driving
pattems.
SHOPPING
The
data
on
supermarket
shopping
suggest
that
contrary
to
driving
on
motorways,
people
are
not
deterred
from
shopping
on
Friday
the
13th.
Local
expeditions
for
shopping,
which
may
be
on
foot,
by
public
transport,
or
by
car,
are
not
postponed.
Shopping
patterns
may
reflect
salary
patterns:
people
paid
at
the
end
of
the
month
may
shop
then
and
two
weeks
rather
than
one
week
later,
when
food
supplies
have
run
a
bit
low.
It
would
be
interesting
to
know
the
mode
of
trans-
port
to
these
stores.
Only
one
of
the
nine
stores
examined,
Chichester,
was
"out
of
town,"
the
others
being
relatively
easy
to
reach
on
foot
or
by
public
transport.
The
results
for
Chichester
were
not
signifi-
cantly
different
from
the
rest
(p
>
0
05).
EMERGENCY
ADMISSIONS
Although
the
numbers
of
admissions
from
accidents
are
too
small
to
allow
meaningful
analysis,
there
seem
to
be
more
injuries
from
transport
accidents
on
Friday
the
13th-despite
there
being
fewer
vehicles
on
the
road.
But
there
are
several
caveats
in
any
calculation
from
our
data
of
a
risk
ratio
for
suffering
a
transport
accident
on
Friday
the
13th:
such
accidents
could
involve
any
form
of
transport,
though
motor
vehicles
comprise
the
vast
majority;
the
accidents
we
recorded
happened
anywhere
in
Britain
to
residents
of
South
West
Thames
region;
the
information
on
traffic
flows
refers
specifically
to
numbers
of
vehicles
on
the
southern
section
of
the
M25.
That
said,
our
data
yield
a
risk ratio
of
1
52-that
is,
the
risk
of
a
transport
accident
on
Friday
the
13th
may
be
increased
by
52%.
CONCLUSIONS
There
are
four
possible
reasons
for
the
findings:
(i)
chance:
further
work
on
larger
samples
would
confirm
or
refute
our
evidence;
(ii)
confounding:
some
hitherto
unrecognised
factor
may
be
related
to
both
driving
patterns
and
accident
rates;
(iii)
bias:
that
those
recording
accident
data
may
be
more
likely
to
record
accidents
on
Friday
the
13th;
(iv)
association:
Friday
the
13th
is
a
more
unlucky
day.
Other
than
the
people
who
stay
off
motorways,
there
may
be
people
who
are
superstitious,
but
not
enough
to
refrain
from
motorway
driving.
Do
drivers
on
A,
B,
C,
and
D
roads
alter
their
behaviour,
and
in
what
way?
Is
the
alteration-for
example
more
wariness-a
positive
change
making
them
more
careful
and
thus
reducing
the
chance
of
an
accident?
If
so,
Friday
the
13th
may
indeed
be
a
very
unlucky
day.
If
the
change
in
behaviour
reveals
itself
by
increased
fear
and
anxiety,
or
perhaps
a
sense
of
destiny,
it
may
reduce
concentra-
tion
and
increase
the
likelihood
of
an
accident.
Are
people's
perceptions
and
beliefs
self
fulfilling-if
you
believe
something
strongly
enough
will
it
in
fact
happen
to
you?
While
we
await
the
answers
to
these
difficult
questions
we
may
just
have
to
accept
that
Friday
the
13th
is
indeed
unlucky
for
some
and
it
might
be
safer
to
stay
at
home.
Our
thanks
go
to
Dr
Janet
Peacock
of
St
George's
Medical
School
for
her
comments
and
guidance
with
the
statistics;
R
J
Beagley,
group
research
manager
of
J
Sainsbury
plc;
and
Alastair
Greenstreet,
South
East
Construction
Programme
division,
Department
of
Transport.
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Gouteux
JP.
The
supernatural,
health
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community
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Experience
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Soc
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1989;28:1255-67.
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Radford
A,
Radford
MA.
The
enmclopedia
of
superstitions.
London:
Hutchin-
son,
1961.
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Lorie
P.
Superstitions.
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1586
BMJ
VOLUME
307
18-25
DECEMBER
1993
... However, such deep-seated but belief systems may have psychologically mediated effects on social behaviour and may have profound implications on health. For example the risks of hospitalisation [6] or even death [7,8] from transport accidents are increased on Friday 13th against matched control days. The mechanisms may be complex and subtle. ...
... The mechanisms may be complex and subtle. Whilst traffic volumes [6] may be reduced, analysis of shopping activity did not show significantly differences yet nevertheless hospitalisation rates were increased suggesting that superstitious behaviour is covert and may manifest in a task-specific way at a population level. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Whilst evidence-based medicine is the cornerstone of modern practice, it is likely that clinicians are influenced by cultural biases. This work set out to look for evidence of number preference in invasive mechanical ventilatory therapy as a concrete example of subconscious treatment bias. A retrospective observational intensive care electronic medical record database search and analysis was carried out in adult general, specialist neurosciences and paediatric intensive care units within a tertiary referral hospital. All admitted, invasively mechanically ventilated patients between October 2014 and August 2015 were included. Set positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP), respiratory rate (RR) and inspiratory pressure (Pinsp) settings were extracted. Statistical analysis using conventional testing and a novel Monte Carlo method were used to look for evidence of two culturally prevalent superstitions: Odd/even preference and aversion to the number 13. Patients spent significantly longer with odd choices for PEEP ($OR=0.16$, $p<2\times10^{-16}$), RR ($OR=0.31$, $p<2\times10^{-16}$) and Pinsp (OR=0.48, $p=2.9\times10^{-7}$). An aversion to the number 13 was detected for choices of RR ($p=0.00024$) and Pinsp ($p=3.9\times10^{-5}$). However a PEEP of 13 was more prevalent than expected by chance ($p=0.00028$). These findings suggest superstitious preferences in intensive care therapy do exist and practitioners should be alert to guard against other, less obvious but perhaps more clinically significant decision-making biases. The methodology described may be useful for detecting statistically significant number preferences in other domains.
... Krajewska-Kulak et al. (2011) reported that 70 per cent of the population from the Podlaskie province (Poland) believe (respected) that Friday the 13th is a day for bad luck. Scanlon et al. (1993) concluded that the risk of a hospital admission as a result of a vehicle accident on Friday the 13th increased by 52 per cent. Nayha (2002) determined that the Scanlon et al. (1993) study size was too small for meaningful analysis and repeated the study with six years' worth of data from Finland. ...
... Scanlon et al. (1993) concluded that the risk of a hospital admission as a result of a vehicle accident on Friday the 13th increased by 52 per cent. Nayha (2002) determined that the Scanlon et al. (1993) study size was too small for meaningful analysis and repeated the study with six years' worth of data from Finland. No increased risk was found for men but for women a 38 per cent increase was found (one-death per 5m person days). ...
Article
Purpose It is a well held belief that the full moon period and the date Friday 13th has an impact on the number of emergency call outs for emergency services. The purpose of this paper is to critically explore that belief. It also examines the versatility and richness of response records, and demonstrates the effectiveness of combining data sets. Design/methodology/approach The work takes four varied data sets, from four rescue agencies along with the International Search and Rescue Database and compared the average number of calls on a full moon night, non-full moon and full moon period (the full moon night, the day before and day after). The average number of incidents on Friday 13th was also investigated. It uses a statistical approach to test the difference between “normal” dates and those dates traditionally believed to be busier. Findings Although there were differences between Friday 13th, full moon nights, full moon periods and “normal” days, the differences were in general extremely small, not significantly significant and in most cases actually dropped during the supposedly unlucky period. The exception to this is a very small increase in the average number of responses during full moons for most data sets, although this was not statistically significant. This paper concludes that there is no evidence in the data for any impact of the full moon upon rescue teams’ activities. Research limitations/implications This research deals with a small set of responses, from the UK only, and addresses an issue that is clearly not the most pressing. However, it does demonstrate evidenced-based management in practice, in that resources have incorrectly been assigned in the past to these dates. Practical implications This work shows that preconceptions exist within the emergency services and that, without evidence-led management, resources can be allocated on hearsay. This shows that widely available software and techniques can be applied to organisational data and used to make management decisions more appropriate. Social implications Rescue organisations are almost exclusively charity or public sector organisations, meaning that their budgets are sourced from donations or the tax-payer. Putting to bed misconceptions over resources for certain dates will ultimately benefit society in those terms. Originality/value There has been very little work on this phenomenon, although some works on A&E department admissions have taken place. This is the only work to date to combine data in this way for this purpose.
... A number of publications have examined the influence of Friday 13 th and explored whether there is any scientific evidence of harm associated with it. A study in 1993 examined traffic flow on the M25, the London orbital motorway, on two Friday the 6 th and the 13 th in five separate months across a three-year period [9]. ...
... There is a paucity of good quality research examining the true impact of the number 13 or the date Frid ay 13 th in relation to medical outcomes. One demonstrated that despite a statistically significant reduction in road traffic on Friday 13 th there was a trend towards greater admissions to emergency departments, but without statistical significance [9]. We believe our study is the first to examine whether bed number has any association with a patient's hospital outcome, or alternatively, whether patients admitted to bed number 13 in our ICU are "unlucky". ...
Article
Purpose: To examine whether admission to bed number 13 on our intensive care unit has any negative impact on the patient's hospital mortality. Materials and methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 1568 patients admitted to our ICU over a two-year period. Observed hospital mortality, predicted mortality using the ICNARC and APACHE II scoring systems and standardised mortality ratios were used to compared patients admitted to bed number 13 with those admitted to beds number 14-24. Results: Of the 1568 patients admitted to ICU, 110 were placed in bed number 13 and 1458 into bed numbers 14-24. Demographics and ICNARC and APACHE II scores were similar between the two groups. There was no significant difference in the ICNARC predicted hospital mortality (mean 21.0%, median8.5% in bed 13 compared with a mean 17.5%, median 6.4% in beds 14-24, p = 0.33), APACHE II predicted hospital mortality (mean 18.4%, median 9.9% in bed 13 compared with mean 18.7%, median 8.9% in beds 14-24, p = 0.74), or observed hospital mortality (20.2% compared with 15.2%, OR 1.41 (CI 0.87 to 2.30), p = 0.17). Conclusions: Admission to bed number 13 was not associated with a significant increase in hospital mortality when compared to admission to other bed numbers.
... Culturally specific healthcare-seeking behaviors are significantly influenced by sociocultural factors [2,3,18]. Cultural beliefs and superstitions are known to affect behavior in every culture in different ways [19]. For example, in Ireland, some patients refuse to be discharged from the hospital on a Saturday [7,20]. ...
... For example, in Ireland, some patients refuse to be discharged from the hospital on a Saturday [7,20]. Friday the 13 th is deemed an unlucky day by most people in the Western World [5,19]. A widespread and often heard belief in German-speaking countries is that lunar phase has an effect on surgery and a full moon has the most negative effects on surgical outcome [21,22]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Various sociocultural factors affect healthcare-seeking behaviors. In Taiwanese society, superstitions and lunar festivals play important roles in people’s lives. We investigated the impact of “Ghost Month” (the 7th lunar month) and Chinese New Year (the 12th lunar month and the 1st lunar month of the following year) on the number of elective surgeries and emergent surgeries in Taiwan. The number of total knee replacement (TKR) surgeries and proximal femur fracture (PFF) surgeries in each lunar month from 2000 to 2011 were extracted from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Database, a computerized and population-based database. Patients were then sorted by location of residence or gender. The average number of TKR surgeries performed was significantly lower during the 1st, 7th, and 12th lunar months in urban areas, whereas in rural areas this trend was only evident in the 7th and 12th lunar months. There was however, no significant difference in the average number of PFF surgeries in each lunar month except for an increase seen in the 1st lunar month in rural patients (p<0.05). When sorted by gender, the average number of TKR surgeries was significantly decreased in the 7th and 12th lunar months in male patients, and decreased in the 1st, 7th, and 12th lunar months in female patients. In contrast, there was no difference in the average numbers of PFF surgeries in the 7th and 12th lunar months either in male or female patients. We proposed that the timing of elective surgeries such as TKR might be influenced by Ghost Month and Chinese New Year; however, emergent PFF surgeries were not significantly influenced by sociocultural beliefs and taboos in Taiwan.
... A study on mortality after nonemergent surgery found an increased rate for procedures performed on fridays versus monday to wednesday [1] another one showed higher mortality rates in patients with elective colorectal resections being performed on fridays versus monday to thursday [2]. Also there is a cultural belief in more than ten percent of the Western European population, that the moon affects health care and is assumed to have a negative effect on procedures, as the occurrence of Friday 13 th is supposed to be associated with worsened outcome [3]. Studies have been performed to analyze the effect of the lunar cycle on birth rates [4], emergency department presentations [5], cardiopulmonary resuscitations [6,7] and psychiatric disorders [8]. ...
... Les auteurs concluaient logiquement qu'il valait mieux rester chez soi ce jour funeste. 27 La réfutation de ces résultats s'est faite en deux temps : dans une première étude finlandaise, seules les femmes semblaient avoir plus d'accidents les vendredis 13 (+63 %), un fait attribué par l'auteur à une anxiété plus grande du sexe féminin face à cette superstition, traitée à grands coups d'anxiolytiques (!). 28 Une seconde étude finlandaise, plus large et moins sexiste, démontra l'absence de toute différence du nombre total d'accidents ce jour-là, que ce soit pour les hommes ou les femmes. 29 Si ces croyances échappent à une logique cartésienne, les tentatives pour les mettre à l'épreuve des faits échouent malheureusement souvent pour des raisons de méthodologie de recherche. ...
Article
Full-text available
The belief that a full moon or Friday the 13th or some specific doctors are associated with busier shifts in the emergency room is still widespread among caregivers. Although such a topic may seem anecdotal, even folkloric, it has been the subject of several studies that have shown that there is no association between these factors and the number of emergency room admissions or type of pathology. It is not certain that an evidence-based approach is sufficient to eliminate such beliefs because their existence also responds to an attempt to put some semblance of meaning into the chaotic and stressful activity of emergencies.
... The situation is equally bleak across the Atlantic. A UK study found that on ominous Fridays, compared to the previous Friday of the same month, traffic flow decreased while car accidents increased (Scanlon, Luben, Scanlon, & Singleton, 1993). In the present studies we demonstrate that using a foreign language can suppress superstitions. ...
Article
In three studies we found that reading information in a foreign language can suppress common superstitious beliefs. Participants read scenarios either in their native or a foreign language. In each scenario, participants were asked to imagine performing an action (e.g., submitting a job application) under a superstitious circumstance (e.g., broken mirror; four-leaf clover) and to rate how they would feel. Overall, foreign language prompted less negative feelings towards bad-luck scenarios, less positive feelings towards good-luck scenarios, while it exerted no influence on non-superstitious, control scenarios. We attribute these findings to language-dependent memory. Superstitious beliefs are typically acquired and used in contexts involving the native language. As a result, the native language evokes them more forcefully than a foreign language.
Thesis
This study aims to investigate common superstition beliefs, superstition beliefs in its relationship with suggestibility, locus of control and some demographic variables (gender- academic specialization – academic achievement) among Cairo University students. The study sample consists of (820) males and females from University students, the number of males is (399), with an average age of (20, 70) years, and a standard deviation of (1, 62) years, whereas (420) females, with an average age of (20, 64) years, and a standard deviation of (1, 36) years. This sample was selected from seven colleges: three theoretical and four practical colleges, distributed on (second- third- fourth –fifth) years of study. Three scales have been applied to the sample: scale of superstitions beliefs, suggestibility scale and locus of control scale with consideration of the psychometric features for these scales. The statistical analysis leads to the following results: First: regarding the common superstition beliefs and its domains, there are some common superstitious detected in the total sample, represented in superstitious about optimism, pessimism and future prediction, Also, in superstitions about both taboos and statutes, as well as superstitions about magic and supernatural events are shared by the entire sample. Factorial analysis results exposed the regularity of superstition in (8) for males and (7) for females, which means that superstition phenomenon are regulated in correlative system. Second: with regard to the results about the relationship between superstition beliefs and two personality traits, there is a significant positive correlation between superstition beliefs and the degree of suggestibility, i.e whenever the degree of suggestibility increases, the belief in superstitions increases. Moreover, we could find significant positive correlation between superstition beliefs and external locus of control; if the event is beyond the control of the individual, the belief in superstition increases. Third: regarding the findings about the relationship between superstition beliefs and some demographic variables which are (gender- academic specialization – level of academic achievement), it is found that there are higher levels of female belief in superstitions than males, Also the students in theoretical specialization believed more in superstition, compared to students of practical specialization specializations. However, there are no differences in superstitious beliefs between students of both higher and lower academic achievement. Finally, the study introduced a number of recommendations for future studies in this topic. Keywords: Superstition beliefs, Suggestibility, Locus of control, External locus of control, Internal locus of control
Article
Full-text available
The supernatural fears associated with the experience of isolated sleep paralysis in the culture of developing countries is sometimes associated with the evolution of somatic symptoms of psychological origin in patients predisposed to neurotic illness. Patients rarely spontaneously volunteer these fears and doctors pay them scant attention. Illustrative case histories that demonstrate the dynamics of the clinical presentation, as well as the treatment approach, are highlighted. It is hoped that doctors in general medical practice and in psychological medicine in developing countries where belief in supernatural causation of illness is rife will consider these factors in order to provide more effective treatment.
Article
Based on the experience of community participation for tsetse control in the Congo, the author attempts to enlarge the reflexion on general health problems in Black Africa. He desires to draw the attention of the readers unfamiliar with anthropology, 1) to the current existence and social importance in the African communities of a particular approach, grounded on belief in the supernatural, radically different from Western thinking, 2) the intrinsic ambiguousness and richness of these ways of thinking, 3) to its great influence in community participation in sanitation programs. The ethical problems involved in the intervention of mediators using traditional or confessional ways of thinking are raised and included in a psychosocial problematic.
Article
The two greatest powers are Heaven/Earth. As opposites, on union they generate Creative Energy. Such power is transferred to their symbols as Yang/Yin. Conceived as concrete entities, Heaven/Earth appear as Air/Earth. These possess specific qualities. Air is Moist and Hot, Earth, Cold and Dry. Thus arose four cosmic qualities. Moreover, the union between Heaven and Earth resulted in creation, first being Water. Thus arose San-Pao, the three Primordial powers, Heaven, Earth and Water. Water produced its opposite, Fire, so that there resulted four cosmic elements. Air, Earth, Water and Fire. With Yin-Yang, Heaven/Earth, in the center surrounded by eight creations as cosmic elements and cosmic qualities, there arose the symbol of cosmogony. Since water was the first creation, its symbol is best placed between Heaven and Earth. Then the symbol of cosmogony with its units representing power becomes a charm. The best charm shows water next to Heaven and then items representing qualities of Air, Earth and Water. Those that usually form a continuous series would be Earth, Water, Air, Moisture, a quality of both, Water and Air. These items are an essential feature in the makeup of a Chinese charm.
Article
This paper reports perceptions and beliefs about babies who erupt upper deciduous teeth before the lower in two rural Yoruba communities. 96.5% of respondents expected that the lower incisors should erupt first. The majority (70.4%) believed the eruption of upper teeth before the lower to be a sign of an evil child. This observation was, however, related to educational status and age. The higher the educational level of the respondents, the higher the proportion of respondents who viewed the occurrence as a mere individual variation. Similarly, the older people tended to view the eruption of upper deciduous teeth before the lower as evidence of an evil child. The need for an educational package directed at similar populations in order to reduce anxiety related to this human variation is stressed. It is suggested that a transcultural approach be taken to cater for the child and family welfare in a situation where societal pressure is high.
Article
Focal group interviews on indigenous perceptions and reported management of childhood diarrhea were conducted in 1987-88 in Guatemala as a part of a prospective epidemiological field study of chronic diarrhea. Six cognitive schemata were identified, each with specific causes, a linked progression of concepts, symptoms, signs, and diagnostic characteristics. Nearly all were related to the humoral theory of disease, including the concept of evil eye. Diarrheal disease was conceptualized in the village as a set of processes which could be either "hot" or "cold" rather than as an unchanging single-symptom entity occupying only one spot on the humoral continuum. Clarification of the temporal relationship between concepts was found to be essential to the understanding of these indigenously-defined schemata. Stool color reflecting humoral theory was the primary concept used in household-level diagnosis. Reported behavior associated with these cognitive schemata (traditional treatments, pharmaceutical and dietary management) showed remarkable constancy, and adhered for the most part to the humoral concept of equilibrium. These included the use of oral rehydration solutions (ORS) and liquids. The applied importance of humoral theory to home-based use of ORS is discussed briefly as is the indigenous definition of dehydration.
Article
Community participation in the control of tropical diseases is of major importance nowadays, particularly for sleeping sickness (Gambian trypanosomiasis). Indeed, the authoritarian measures used with success to control this disease during the colonial period are difficult to apply now. Moreover, in the Congo, cultural and financial restrictions are such that patients sometimes refuse treatment. Thus, it has become highly desirable for vector control to be carried out at the same time as the treatment of patients. Trapping tsetse flies (or Glossina) is an ingenious and effective anti-vectorial method which has been tested in 55 villages of the Congo. The blue-black pyramid trap used does not require insecticide impregnation, and is hung in the branches by means of a capture-bag containing diesel oil. These trials, conducted in the sleeping sickness focus of the Niari river, have demonstrated the feasibility of local communities taking over the responsibility for the traps, while at the same time revealing certain obstacles. Indeed, the efficacy of this method depends on the optimization of trapping. This involves the determination of strategic capture sites by periodically harvesting the flies and moving the traps in order to catch the maximum number of flies. It also involves regular maintenance of the traps (i.e. repairs, checking the capture bag, clearing vegetation...). However, although these activities would appear to be feasible at community level, they are not always carried out satisfactorily. This results in the insufficient viability of the traps and finally to the reinvasion of the treated area by the tsetse. This study presents aspects of the present-day Congolese socio-cultural environment characterized by the revitalization of traditional Bantou mysticism and religious worship. The possessors of the 'Vital Force' or Kundu (sorcerers and healers) are confronted at night in an 'over-reality' consisting of the visible reality together with innumberable beings and objects existing specifically in the invisible state. This nocturnal confrontation may modify the local balance of power and relationships, and is also thought to cause certain symptoms of sleeping sickness and other diseases. During the colonial period, Kundu was prohibited. Under the influence of the Christian church, and because of the progress of modern medicine, the power of the sorcerers and healers gradually decreased. Then, in the 1960s, the eruption of Marxism as an anti-religious theory, modified the balance of power once more.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
The enmclopedia of superstitions
  • A Radford
  • Ma Radford
Radford A, Radford MA. The enmclopedia of superstitions. London: Hutchinson, 1961.
thanks go to Dr Janet Peacock of St George's Medical School for her comments and guidance with the statistics
  • R J Beagley
thanks go to Dr Janet Peacock of St George's Medical School for her comments and guidance with the statistics; R J Beagley, group research manager of J Sainsbury plc; and Alastair Greenstreet, South East Construction Programme division, Department ofTransport.
The supernatural, health and community action in Black Africa. Bulletin de la Societi de Pathologie Exotique
  • J P Gouteux
  • Gouteux, J.P.