1. Surveys of a working community, of a group of elderly people, and of an urban population show an incidence of Dupuytren's contracture among men varying from 0·1 per cent in the age group fifteen to twenty-four, to 18·1 per cent in those aged seventy-five and over; and among women from 0·5 per cent in the age group forty-five to fifty-four, to 9 per cent over seventy-five. It is estimated that in the population aged fifteen and over in Lancashire and Cheshire there will be 4·2 per cent of the men and 1·4 per cent of the women with some degree of palmar contracture.
2. There appears to be no relationship between the type of occupation and the incidence or severity of contracture in men, except that among those engaged in light manual work the proportion of mildly affected hands is higher, and of bilateral contracture lower, than among either non-manual or heavy manual workers.
3. Evidence is provided that rheumatoid arthritis, past polyarthritis, osteoarthritis, cervical spondylosis and Paget's disease occur no more often in those with Dupuytren's contracture than in other members of the community.
4. Examination of the patients in an epileptic colony confirms a strong association between Dupuytren's contracture and epilepsy. Knuckle-pads, plantar nodules and periarthritis of the shoulder are all more frequent in epileptic than in non-epileptic patients with Dupuytren's contracture. Epileptics also show a higher proportion with bilateral contractures and a greater tendency to a symmetrical pattern of contracture in the two hands. A strong constitutional factor, probably genetic, thus operates in persons with both diseases.
Nevertheless, the frequency of a positive family history of contracture is lower in the epileptic cases, and reasons for this are discussed.
5. From the limited material available in the literature there would appear to be an inverse relationship between the population of certain countries and the prevalence in them of Dupuytren's contracture. The possible significance of this is briefly discussed.