Proceedings of a Symposium held at the College of General Practitioners, London
Sunday, 27 November, 1966

When discussing the four commonest causes of death among young adults, the principal contributors to this symposium each tackled their subject in very different ways. In publishing them together I make no apology for this. Indeed, it highlights the way in which the challenge of the continuing high level of mortality among young adults in Britain can be approached from different angles. Fundamental research, such as that described by Dr Long, is complementary to the application of medical procedures such as those described by Dr Hamer, and to the more social and educational approach of Professor Gissane and Dr Sainsbury.

Further, their different approaches help to illustrate the fact that the problem must be the responsibility of all those who can help. Medical and epidemiological research alone are not enough; nor are good general practice, effective preventive medicine and efficient hospitals; nor are health education or further safety measures. Each one is vital, and all must work together to reduce the present toll of some 24,000 young lives per year.

The Office of Health Economics can do no more than help to propagate progressive thinking about medical care, such as that of the contributors to this symposium. Any consequent benefits for the community – in this case young adults at risk of premature mortality – must flow from the actions of those who are more directly concerned with research, with medicine and with patients. It is they alone who can alter the pattern of mortality.