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The ABS causes of death 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 ABS deaths or causes of death statistics.
As an example, records received by the ABS during the March quarter of 2009 which were initially registered in 2008 or prior (but not forwarded to the ABS until 2009) are assigned to the 2008 reference year. Any registrations relating to 2008 which are received by the ABS after the end of the March quarter are assigned to the 2009 reference year.
Data in the Causes of Death collection include demographic items, as well as Causes of Death information, which is coded according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). ICD is the international standard classification for epidemiological purposes and is designed to promote international comparability in the collection, processing, classification, and presentation of cause of death statistics. The classification is used to classify diseases and causes of disease or injury as recorded on many types of medical records as well as death records. The ICD has been revised periodically to incorporate changes in the medical field. The 10th revision of ICD (ICD-10) is used for the 2008 data.
Causes of Death data are published annually and released within 15 months of the end of the reference period. For example, 2008 Causes of Death data are released in March 2010.
Causes of Death, Doctor Certified Deaths are published annually and released within 11 months of the reference period. For example, 2008 data were released on 27 November 2009.
Causes of death statistics are released with a view to ensuring that they are fit for purpose when released. To meet user requirements for timely data it is often necessary to obtain information from the administrative source before all information for the reference period is available (e.g. finalisation of coronial proceedings). A balance needs to be maintained between accuracy (completeness) of data and timeliness, taking account of the different needs of users. To address the issues which arise through the publication of causes of death data for open coroners cases, these data are now subject to a revisions process. This process enables the use of additional information relating to coroner certified deaths either 12 or 24 months after initial processing. See Technical Note 2: Causes of Death - Revisions Process for further information on the revision process.
Non-sample errors are the main influence on accuracy in datasets such as this which are a complete census of the population rather than a sample. Non-sample error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. The most significant of these errors are: mis-reporting of data items; deficiencies in coverage; non-response to particular questions; and processing errors. Every effort is made to minimise error by working closely with data providers, the careful design of forms, training of processing staff, and efficient data processing procedures.
The ABS has implemented a new revisions process that applies to all coroner certified deaths registered after 1 January 2007. This is a change from previous years where all ABS processing of causes of death data for a particular reference period was finalised approximately 13 months after the end of the reference period. The revisions process enables the use of additional information relating to coroner certified deaths as it becomes available over time, resulting in increased specificity of the assigned ICD-10 codes. See Technical Note 2: Causes of Death - Revisions Process for further information on the revision process.
Two processing improvements have been introduced to the Causes of Death collection for the release of 2008 data. These improvements relate to the way the ABS codes coroner certified deaths and have had the effect of significantly improving the quality of cause of death codes assigned to coroner certified cases. All data in the Causes of Death, Australia, 2008 publication have been positively impacted by these improvements. See Technical Note 1: 2008 COD Collection - Process Improvements for further information.
Use of the supporting documentation released with the statistics is important for assessing coherence within the dataset and when comparing the statistics with data from other sources. Changing business rules over time and/or across data sources can affect consistency and hence interpretability of statistical output. The Explanatory Notes in each issue contains information pertinent to this particular release which may impact on comparison over time.
This publication provides additional information documentation with statistics impacted by the new ABS revision process. The three technical notes in this issue contain information pertinent to coroner certified deaths affected by the revision process.
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