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We aimed to assess whether rural residence is associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in the south-east of England using a population based register. Previous studies in different populations have produced contradictory findings. Residence defined by London borough or non-metropolitan district at time of diagnosis was recorded for each incident case in the South-East England ALS Register between 1995 and 2005. Each of the 26 boroughs or districts of the catchment area of the register was classified according to population density. Age- and sex-adjusted incidence of ALS was calculated for each region and the relationship with population density tested by linear regression, thereby controlling for the underlying population structure. We found that population density in region of residence at diagnosis explained 25% of the variance in ALS rates (r = 0.5, p < 0.01). Thus, in this cohort in the south-east of England, people with ALS were more likely to be resident in areas of high population density at diagnosis.

Original publication




Journal article


Amyotroph Lateral Scler

Publication Date





435 - 438


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, England, Female, Humans, London, Male, Population Density, Registries, Rural Population, Urban Population