ABOUT THIS RELEASE
Mortality data is one of the most basic tools of public health analysis. Analysis of mortality data commonly focuses on the examination of a single, underlying cause of death. However, data is now available relating to other conditions which contributed to a person's death. Deaths data which include both the underlying and contributory causes of death are known as Multiple Cause of Death (MCD) data. ABS has multiple cause of death data currently available for years 1997-2001. MCD data is particularly useful in examining chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, which commonly appear in conjunction with other conditions. As Australia's population ages, increasing the death rates due to chronic conditions, MCD analysis will become increasingly relevant.
This publication investigates the potential of MCD data, by analysing several important associated causes of death. These include ischaemic heart disease and diabetes, and suicide and substance use. A range of analytical techniques for multiple cause analysis are discussed, including descriptive analysis, ratios of observed to expected joint frequencies, and odds ratios. The limitations of MCD data are also discussed. Technical information on the definitions and methods employed are included in an appendix.