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3303.0 - Causes of Death, Australia, 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/12/2003   
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INTRODUCTION

1 This publication contains summary statistics on causes of death for the general population, together with selected statistics on perinatal deaths. The registration of deaths is the responsibility of the individual state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages. As part of the registration process, information as to the cause of death is supplied by the medical practitioner certifying the death or by a coroner. Other information about the deceased is supplied by a relative or other person acquainted with the deceased, or by an official of the institution where the death occurred. This information is provided to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) by individual Registrars for coding and compilation into aggregate statistics shown in this publication. Statistics of perinatal deaths for years prior to 1994 were published separately in Perinatal Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3304.0), which has been discontinued.

SCOPE AND COVERAGE

2 The statistics in sections 1, 2 and 3 relate to the number of deaths registered, not those which actually occurred, in the years shown. Usually about 5% to 6% of deaths occurring in one year are not registered until the following year or later. Statistics in section 4 relate to deaths by year of occurrence.

Bali Bombing

3 The ABS deaths collection includes all deaths that occurred and were registered in Australia including deaths of persons whose usual residence is overseas. Deaths of Australian residents that occurred outside Australia may be registered by individual Registrars, but are not included in the ABS statistics.

4 As deaths of Australian residents which occurred outside Australia are not within the scope of the collection, most of the Australian fatalities of the Bali bombing have been excluded from these statistics. Only 8 victims of the Bali bombing died after arrival or en route to Australia, and these have been included in the statistics. This number includes 2 overseas residents. Under the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health problems tenth revision (ICD-10), these deaths have been coded to X96 (Assault by explosive material).

5 After the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) in the USA assigned preliminary codes within the ICD-10 classification for deaths by terrorism. To classify a death as terrorist-related in the USA, it is necessary for the incident to be designated as such by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The ABS has not adopted the preliminary terrorism codes but has coded these deaths using the standard ICD-10 classification and coding rules. If the terrorism codes were to be used and the Bali bombing was classified as a terrorist related incident these deaths would have been classified as U01.2 (Terrorism involving other explosives and fragments).

Perinatal death statistics

6 The perinatal death statistics contained in this publication, unless otherwise stated, include all fetuses and infants delivered weighing at least 400 grams or (when birthweight is unavailable) the corresponding gestational age (20 weeks), whether alive or dead. This definition recognises the availability of reliable 400 grams/20 weeks data from all state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages and recommendations from major users that the ABS adopt the legal requirement for registration of a perinatal death as the statistical standard.

7 For 1996 and previous editions of this publication, data relating to perinatal deaths were based upon the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended definition for compiling national perinatal statistics. The WHO definition of perinatal deaths included infants and fetuses weighing at least 500 grams or having a gestational age of 22 weeks or body length of 25 centimetres crown-heel.

8 The birth statistics used to calculate the perinatal and neonatal death rates in this publication are shown in Appendix 3. Appendix tables A3.1-A3.3 detail registered live birth statistics and stillbirth statistics adjusted to exclude infants who are known to have weighed under 400 grams. Such births are identified from the medical certificate of perinatal death, which records birthweight. Appendix table A3.4 shows similar adjusted information but it is based on the 500 grams definition.

9 The adjusted live birth statistics differ from the live birth statistics used to derive the infant death rates in this publication. The statistics used to calculate infant death rates include all registered live births regardless of birthweight. These statistics are shown in tables A2.1 of Appendix 2.

10 The adjusted birth statistics also differ from the statistics published in Births, Australia (cat. no. 3301.0), which are unadjusted for birthweight, i.e. have not had births known to have weighed less than 400 grams excluded. For years 1993 to 1996, births which occurred in Other Territories were excluded from adjusted live births used in calculating perinatal rates.

STATISTICS FOR STATES AND TERRITORIES

11 Cause of death statistics for states and territories in this publication have been compiled in respect of the state or territory of usual residence of the deceased, regardless of where in Australia the death occurred and was registered. The state or territory of usual residence for a perinatal death is determined by the state or territory of usual residence of the mother. Statistics compiled on a state or territory of registration basis are available on request.

12 The Australian Standard Geographical Classification versions used since 1993 have a category 'Other Territories' comprising Jervis Bay, Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. In the past, Jervis Bay was included with Australian Capital Territory and the two island Territories were included in Off-Shore Areas and Migratory. From 1993 to 1996, statistics for 'Other Territories' have been excluded from this publication. However from 1997 they are included in the Australian totals.

CAUSE OF DEATH CLASSIFICATION USED

13 The tenth revision of the International Classification of Diseases and Health Related Problems (ICD-10) was adopted for Australian use for deaths registered from 1 January 1999. However, to identify changes between the ninth and tenth revisions, deaths for 1997 and 1998 were coded to both revisions. In this publication, underlying cause data for 2001 and 2002 have been coded to the tenth revision while previous years' data are coded to the ninth revision. All multiple cause data in this publication are coded to the tenth revision (see Glossary for definition of underlying and multiple cause). For underlying cause of death, accidental and violent deaths are classified according to the external cause, that is, to the circumstances of the accident or violence which produced the fatal injury rather than to the nature of the injury.

14 The extensive nature of the ICD enables classification of causes of death at various levels of detail. For the purpose of this publication, two summary classifications are used. They are:

  • the ICD at the chapter level (with further disaggregation for major causes of death).
  • main Causes of Death for age groups.

15 Tables 1.1, 1.3, 2.2, 2.3 and 4.1 present statistics at the ICD chapter level with further disaggregation for major causes of death. Background on this summary classification is given in Volume 1 of the ICD.

16 Tables 1.2 and 1.4 present data for main causes of death for age groups. For each age group, a summary classification of the main causes of death relevant to the age group has been used. These consist of causes of death significant in that age group, at the chapter level, with further disaggregation below the chapter level where appropriate.

17 To enable the reader to see the relationship between the various summary classifications used in this publication, all tables show in brackets the ICD codes which constitute the causes of death covered.

18 As ICD-9 did not directly accommodate the coding of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and AIDS-related deaths, cases where AIDS was the underlying cause were coded to ICD-9 deficiency of cell-mediated immunity (279.1), from 1988 to 1995. In 1996, ABS adopted ICD-9 Clinically Modified (CM) for coding of AIDS and AIDS-related deaths. Hence, for 1996 to 1998, all AIDS-related deaths (i.e. deaths where AIDS was mentioned in any place on the death certificate) were coded to HIV infection (042-044). ICD-10 adopted from 1999 allows for the coding of AIDS and AIDS-related deaths (B20-B24).

19 All data in this publication refer to AIDS-related deaths rather than only those deaths where AIDS is the underlying cause. Hence in table 1.1 and 1.3, AIDS-related deaths differ from the data provided for all other causes in that table since for all other causes, only data for underlying cause are given.

Perinatal statistics

20 For perinatal deaths, both the main condition in the fetus/infant, and the main condition in the mother are coded to the full four-digit level of the tenth revision of ICD. Causes selected for publication in this issue are those categories which were responsible for a significant proportion of perinatal deaths.

DATA QUALITY

21 In compiling these statistics, the ABS employs a variety of quality control measures to ensure that the statistics are as reliable as possible. These measures include: seeking further information where necessary to enable accurate classification of the underlying cause of death; check-coding of cause of death; detailed computer editing of data; and checks on the statistical output, at the individual record and aggregate levels.

22 To assist certifiers in providing accurate and comprehensive information for mortality coding, the ABS provides certification booklets for guidance in the completion of medical certificates of cause of death.

Indigenous deaths

23 This publication includes Indigenous deaths data for all states and territories with the exception of Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, where there are comparatively small numbers of Indigenous deaths. While all states and territories have provision for the identification of Indigenous deaths on their death registration forms, the coverage of Indigenous deaths varies greatly from state to state. Detailed information on coverage of Indigenous deaths is provided in Deaths, Australia (cat 3302.0).

BIRTHS DATA

24 Appendix 2 provides details of the number of live births registered which have been used to calculate the infant death rates shown in this publication. Appendix 3 provides data on adjusted births used for calculating perinatal death rates. These also enable further rates to be calculated.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

25 The ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

RELATED PRODUCTS

26 Other available ABS products which may be of interest include:
AusStats - electronic data (see Explanatory Note 25)
Australian Social Trends, cat. no. 4102.0 - issued annually
Births, Australia, cat. no. 3301.0 - issued annually
Causes of Infant and Child Deaths, Australia, 1982-96, cat. no. 4398.0 - issued irregularly - discontinued
Deaths, Australia, cat. no. 3302.0 - issued annually
Deaths due to Diseases and Cancers of the Respiratory System, Australia, 1979-1994, cat. no. 3314.0 - issued irregularly
Drug Induced Deaths, cat. no. 3321.0.55.001 - single issue
Information Paper: Drug-induced Deaths - A Guide to ABS Causes of Death Data, cat. no. 4809.0 - single issue
Information Paper: Multiple Cause of Death Analysis, cat. no. 3319.0.55.001 - issued irregularly
Mortality Atlas Australia 1997-2000, cat. no. 3318.0 - single issue
Suicides, Australia, 1921-1998, cat. no. 3309.0 - issued irregularly
Suicides: Recent Trends Australia 2001, cat. no. 3309.0.55.001 - issued irregularly

27 AusStats is a web based information service which provides the ABS full standard product range on line. It also includes companion data in multidimensional datasets in SuperTable format, and time series spreadsheets.

28 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (cat. no. 1101.0). The catalogue is available from any ABS office or the ABS web site at <http://www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.

29 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, additional information is available from this web site by accessing Themes/Health.

DATA AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

30 More detailed cause of death information is available upon request from the ABS. This information can comprise standard tables (see Appendix 1) or customised tabulations (by hardcopy or electronic media). Unit record files are available to approved users upon application. Generally, a charge is made for providing information upon request.

31 Perinatal tabulations for Australia based on WHO national (see Explanatory Notes, paragraph 5) and international definitions are available upon request. The WHO international definition comprises all fetuses and infants (who die within seven days of birth) weighing at least 1,000 grams or (when birthweight is unavailable) having the corresponding gestational age (28 weeks) or body length (35 centimetres crown-heel). A charge is made for providing this information.

32 For more information about cause of death statistics or data concepts contact Peter Burke on 1800 620 963.

EFFECTS OF ROUNDING

33 Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between totals and sums of the component items.


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