Issues for causes of death data:
The main sources of non-sample error are:
- completeness of the dataset e.g. impact of registration lags, processing lags and duplicate records
- extent of coverage of the population (whilst all deaths are legally required to be registered some cases may not be registered for an extended time, if at all).
- lack of consistency in the application of questions or forms used by data providers. For example, old forms are used before being replaced with new forms and so there could be a period of overlap when a mixture of questions is used, or different questions are asked on death registration forms on the same subject. For occupation, the questions include main occupation during working life, usual occupation, and current occupation.
- particular data items which would be useful for statistical purposes may not be collected by jurisdictions where that item is not essential for administration purposes.
- question and ‘interviewer’ biases given that information for death registrations are supplied about the person by someone else. For example, Indigenous origin as reported by a third party can be different from self reported responses on a form. Forms are often not subject to the same best practice design principles as statistical questionnaires, and respondent and/or interviewer understanding is rarely tested.
- level of specificity and completeness in coronial reports or doctor's findings on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death will impact on the accuracy of coding.
- errors can occur in coding of the causes of a death to ICD-10. The majority of cause of death coding is undertaken through an automated coding process, which is estimated to have a very high level of accuracy. Human coding can be subject to error, however the ABS mitigates this risk through rigorous coder training, detailed documentation and instructions for coding complex or difficult cases, and extensive data quality checks.
Open coronial proceedings:
- completeness of an individual record at a given point in time (e.g. incomplete causes of death information due to non-finalisation of coronial proceedings).
- coroner certified deaths that are not finalised at the end of ABS processing for a reference period are potentially assigned a less specific ICD-10 cause of death code.
- coroner certified deaths that become closed during the revision process are assigned a more specific cause of death based on additional information made available when the coronial proceeding is finalised.